We’ve heard a lot about 2nd amendment rights from guys who enjoy shooting things. And it begs the question, "Is bear hunting really a sport if the bears can’t shoot back?" Well, fair is fair...let's ARM THE BEARS! After all, isn’t it about time they started defending themselves?
IF YOU'RE NOT FROM A PLACE CALLED 'BEAR COUNTRY,' YOU MAY BE WONDERING WHY AN ANIMAL OF THIS SIZE NEEDS DEFENDING OF ANY KIND. It's OK if you don't know better, but black bears are flight animals, like squirrels or deer. They have short claws for climbing – which is what they do when they're afraid – which is often. My neighbor's chihuahua once treed a bear, and there's a youtube video of a cat from West Milford chasing a bear. One morning at 5am I chased a bear too, who was running through the neighbor's yard with my bear-proof trash can. He ran as soon as he saw me – in my pajamas and flip-flops – a scary sight, I'm sure.
Before I go on, let me be clear about my thoughts on trophy hunters. Anyone who kills an animal in order to pump himself up is surely lacking in other areas. But I digress… Trophy hunters kill bears under the delusion that they are heroically conquering some fierce brute. Of course, the hunter fantasy is contingent on the reality that black bears are not fierce. Black bears do not fight back, making them easy targets for any coward with a gun. Someone recently took a photo of THREE cubs shot by a single New Jersey hunting party. And one of the hunters remarked, "When the mother saw me, she ran away and didn't protect them." So there you have it. Even the myth of the mother bear defending her cubs is debunked by a hunter himself.
In addition to killing cubs, which is legal in New Jersey, hunters also kill hibernating bears. Shooting a bear in his den is NOT legal, but it's common. Many people, including myself, heard the firecrackers go off in the woods the year hunters blasted bears out of their dens for an easy thrill-kill. Let's hope the rest of us are at a safe distance when Karma comes for all of them.
While trophy hunters are the pawns pulling the trigger, the real enemies of black bears are the NJ Division of Fish & Kill Wildlife and the politicians who serve the gun and hunting lobby.
For now, I won't mention our unworthy adversary, Governor Christie. Instead, I'd like to introduce you to a much lower-level politician...meet Michael Sedon, a Councilman (and hunter) from Ridgewood, NJ. When shown the picture of the aforementioned three cubs all killed by the same hunting party, his bizarre response was: "Nice! That looks like a pretty successful day of hunting to me. Younger bears taste much better than older, larger bears anyway. Congratulations!"
If Sedon finds this amusing, I wonder what he thinks of this graphic that's been circulating on Facebook. And I wonder who made it? :) I bet when he found out that The Bergen Record wrote a story about what he said, he fell right out of his treestand with laughter. Readers, if you'd like, you can write a letter to The Bergen Record (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or click here to view or share this graphic. Let's get the word out about how unprofessional he is, and how callous he is toward three baby animals. And if bear advocate Susan Kehoe is still planning to distribute fliers, I'll be happy to join her...and I hope you will, too.
And though our bears are sleeping now, we can't rest. From the quiet of their dens, they don't know that as you read this, the NJ Division of Fish and Kill Wildlife is plotting to expand the current trophy hunt, and allow hunters to kill more than one bear. So whether you live in Bear Country, or whether you live elsewhere in New Jersey...the bears need ALL of us to close ranks now and speak out! We are all their guardians. Click here for action we must take to protect them.
Remember, bear advocates in New Jersey have accomplished great things, including getting THREE governors to ban bear hunting while they were in office. I believe that together we'll do more great things. Together, let's stay strong in the year ahead for our bears. Because they need us.
Yours in the struggle,
ARM THE BEARS