Snaring’s About the Sickest
In Alaska, bears—in addition to wolves—are routinely hunted, trapped and shot from planes under the deathly ill-advised notion that eliminating those animals leaves more moose or caribou for more hunters to slay. What the Alaska state Board of “Game” can’t seem to figure out is, as the number of hunters goes up, the quantity of moose goes down, simple as that. Will we have to see an Alaska devoid of bears and wolves before the game players finally figure out who’s to blame?
But if anything could be sicker than aerial gunning for bears, it’s snaring them. Bear snaring is a recent addition to Alaska’s long history of animal abuse and exploitation; this new act of depravity was allowed “experimentally” for the first time in 2008.
In the following excerpt from an article, posted January 12, 2012 in the Anchorage Press, Bill Sherwonit dared to imagine just what snaring is really like for its victims:
Picture this: An adult female grizzly bear is roaming forested lowlands on the western side of Cook Inlet when she gets a whiff of ripe, decaying flesh. Sensing an easy meal, the bear follows her nose to a large tree. Several feet above the ground, a bucket partly filled with rotting guts and skin has been attached to the tree; placed on its side, the open-lidded container faces outward, inviting inspection. The grizzly stands and sniffs around the cavity, then sticks her right paw into it. When the paw hits the bottom of the pail, it triggers a metal snare that closes around the animal’s foot. Feeling the pinch of the trap, the grizzly pulls back. As she does, the metal loop tightens.
Two cubs have followed her to the bait. Now, sensing their mother’s agitation, they too become upset. One begins to bawl. This only deepens the adult bear’s determination to free herself. With her free paw she swats and tears at the bucket and tree and she pulls even harder against the snare, which begins to cut through the animal’s thick fur and into her flesh. Now the embodiment of rage, the adult grizzly roars and snaps her jaws, thrashes about. The cubs wail louder.
Eventually exhausted by her struggles, the grizzly mom slumps against the tree, while the whimpering cubs huddle together nearby. More time passes and the trapped grizzly resumes her fight for freedom. The cubs again cry in panic.
It goes like this for hours. A day might pass before the trapper-called a “snare permittee” by state wildlife officials-comes to check the snare, even longer if he’s delayed for some reason. When he does show up, the grizzly mom goes berserk. Depending on their age and personalities, the cubs might charge the person, run off, or huddle in fear. These two retreat into nearby bushes.
The trapper could legally shoot the cubs, now in their second year, but he chooses to ignore the small, frightened bears and heads for their mom. He takes aim, fires his gun, and kills her…
The cubs remain in hiding. Without their mother, it’s more likely they will starve than survive the summer.
Even five years ago, the idea was unimaginable: trap and shoot Alaska’s bears so that human hunters might kill more moose.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. Always trying to come up with new ways to rid Alaska’s landscape of competitors for moose and caribou meat, at least a few predator-control proponents, Ted Spraker among them, were looking toward Maine, then the only state to allow the snaring of bears. The retired Department of Fish and Game biologist worked nearly three decades to increase kills of wolves and bears, primarily to benefit sport hunters.…
Stomach churning stuff—those “snare permitees” must be as callous as they come. I’m just glad Sherwinot saved me the heartache of making the imaginary journey myself this time.
The late, Canadian naturalist and author, R D Lawrence, wrote:
“Killing for sport, for fur, or to increase a hunter’s success by slaughtering predators is totally abhorrent to me. I deem such behavior to be barbaric, a symptom of the social sickness that causes our species to make war against itself at regular intervals with weapons whose killing capacities have increased horrendously since man first made use of the club—weapons that today are continuing to be ‘improved’.”
Contact in for the Alaska Board of Game can be found here: http://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/stop-bear-snaring-and-wolf-trapping-adjacent-to-denali/