Exposing the Big Game

Forget Hunters' Feeble Rationalizations and Trust Your Gut Feelings: Making Sport of Killing Is Not Healthy Human Behavior

Exposing the Big Game

Warm weather, lack of ice likely factors in sluggish polar bear harvest: Nunatsiavut government


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Still more than 2 months left in Labrador hunting season

CBC News · Posted: Apr 14, 2021 6:00 AM NT | Last Updated: 9 hours ago

This photo of a polar bear was taken just outside of Seal Islands, Labrador, by Nicholas Morris in 2018. (Submitted by Tristen Russell)

Only five of 12 licences to harvest polar bears have been filled on the north coast of Labrador, and the Nunatsiavut government says weather and climate explain this year’s drop. 

Each year, licences to kill polar bears are allotted to Inuit hunters on Labrador’s north coast via random selection.

For the past two years, the Newfoundland and Labrador government has allowed 12 licences to be handed out.

In 2020, 11 of those licences were filled before the June 30 deadline.

So far this season, only five animals have been killed.

The troubles with this year’s sluggish hunt are just one detail among many about what’s emerging to be an existential issue for Labrador’s Inuit, who rely on sea ice for food, resources and survival. 

“The ice conditions, the way they are now, it’s getting kind of difficult for people to get around,” said Todd Broomfield, the Nunatsiavut government’s director of renewal resources.

“When it’s difficult getting around, you can’t normally get to your places where you would hunt polar bear, so that’s having an impact this year.”

Of the five polar bears killed, three were taken from Nain hunters and one each from Hopedale and Makkovik. The licences allotted to Rigolet and Postville have not yet been filled.

According to Broomfield, the bears visit the islands peppered along Labrador’s north coast. However, a winter that has seen far less sea ice means travelling to the bears is difficult.

Shrinking sea ice in northern Labrador

22 days ago1:00Nunatsiavut residents describe the thinning sea ice, and the toll it’s taking in their communities 1:00

“It impacts your ability to get out to the outside islands where you would normally expect to see polar bear[s],” Broomfield said.

The hunt officially began in the mid-1980s with a quota of six bears for the area. In 2011 that was increased to 12 bears from the Davis Strait subpopulation, one that is said to have a population of up to 2,500 bears.

Should California ban bear hunting?

https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.437.0_en.html#goog_1340166893 PauseMuteLoaded: 0% Fullscreen

By Megan Goldsby KCBS Radio

a day agohttps://omny.fm/shows/kcbsam-on-demand/should-bear-hunting-be-banned/embed?style=cover

A Bay Area state senator is trying to ban bear hunting in California, but the hunting and wildlife lobby is pushing back.

San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener said the ban on hunting black bears would stop the animal from going the way of the brown bear.

“Brown bears are extinct in California due to being hunted to extinction,” he told KCBS Radio.

Wiener said the ban would follow bans on hunting bobcats in the state, and the use of hounds to track bears while hunting.

“I’m not criticizing anyone for hunting,” the state senator noted. “A lot of people do want to hunt. But, we also have the obligation to take a step back as Californians and look at what our values are. A lot of people are, frankly, surprised to hear that we still allow recreational black bear hunting.”https://246cbe00e86fb69bfa10c02104a82a9d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Bill Gaines is not one of them. He’s the principal at Gaines and Associates, which lobbies for wildlife-related issues.

Gaines told KCBS Radio that of the 40 senate districts in California, only one of them does not have a bear in it.

“But the other 39 senate districts do have problems with bears, and eliminating the ability to hunt them is going to eliminate the ability to manage them,” he said.https://246cbe00e86fb69bfa10c02104a82a9d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Gaines said bears have been breaking into cabins in Tahoe and ruining beekeepers’ livings by knocking over their hives.

Plus, he added, money raised by bear hunting supports conservation efforts.

“You have to buy a bear tag,” Gaines said. “They’re roughly about $50, and those monies go into what we call the big game management account, which is administered by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.”https://246cbe00e86fb69bfa10c02104a82a9d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Wiener doesn’t think that justifies hunting bears.

“We definitely should be funding conservation efforts, but to suggest that the only way we can fund it is by allowing hunting of bears – I just don’t agree with that argument,” he said. “We could also take the position, ‘well, we want more conservation money so let’s quadruple the number of bear tags that we issue


Conservation Commission approves black bear hunting season

  • Dec 12, 2020

Missouri’s first black bear hunting season will begin in February.

The framework for the season, which will allow black bear hunting in the state’s southern regions for Missouri residents only, was approved Friday by the Missouri Conservation Commission.

Missouri residents submitted a slew of negative comments to the state after the commission’s decision to approve the regulatory framework in September.

Out of 1,059 public comments, 1,013 — 96% — were generally opposed to the season, according to Mike Hubbard, resource science supervisor for the commission.

A majority of public comment suggested the hunting season was “cruel and unnecessary.” Residents also cited concerns about the stability of the black bear population in the event of a hunting season.

“I have no in-depth knowledge about the science, but understand that the black bear population is still only beginning to recover and must receive full protection from human intervention/slaughter,” Paulette Zimmerman, a retired English teacher and conservationist, said.

Zimmerman said that black bear species contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem and do not simply exist for human use.

In 2010, the MDC instituted a study to monitor the growth of the black bear population and understand its habitat. This study evolved into a multi-faceted bear management plan that aims to educate the public about black bears and minimize human-bear conflicts.

“There is a variety of different emotions that come up when you talk about black bear management,” an MDC furbearer biologist and leader of the bear management research project, Laura Conlee, said.

Conlee explained that the bear management task force has encouraged public input on the bear hunting season through open houses in 2019 and commenting periods in 2020, which were used to inform the proposal.

Since the conservation department’s initial bear management plan was launched in 2008, the population has been rapidly growing to reflect 350 bears in 2012 (including cubs) and approximately 540 to 840 bears in 2019, the Missourian has reported.

Conlee noted that by 2029, the black bear population in Missouri should double if the growth rate remains constant.

Some critics of the bear hunting season question just how voluminous the population is.

“It would be a real thrill for me to spot an example of Ursus americanus in the forests of Missouri,” 72-year-old wildlife enthusiast Terry Ganey said, stating his opposition to the hunting season.

Ganey explained that in all his years of hiking, fishing, camping and canoeing in the Missouri wild, he has yet to lay eyes on one of the state’s black bears.

Conlee said the discussion around a bear hunting season evolved from the MDC’s mission to provide recreational opportunities for Missourians.

“When the population reached a sustainable level, we planned to look to establish a hunting season,” Conlee said.

Bear quotas and hunting permits will be informed by the population, Conlee said, explaining that the population model allows furbearer biologists to understand how the harvest impacts the population and make recommendations based on existing data.

Conlee said the hunting season is not intended as a trophy hunt, but as part of the MDC’s plan to monitor Missouri’s black bear population.

Conlee also noted that hunters are required to utilize commonly edible portions of the bears, for example, their muscle meat. The MDC will develop educational resources to help guide hunters in utilizing parts of the bear resourcefully, Conlee said.

Missouri State Director for the Humane Society, Amanda Good, worries that the season will become a trophy hunt.

The hunt, she said, “is contrary to the duty to protect and conserve Missouri’s wildlife.”

Barbarism on the Rise: Hunting Mama Wolves and Bears and Their Cubs in Alask

Barbarism on the Rise: Hunting Mama Wolves and Bears and Their Cubs in Alaska



Arctic wolf. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

When I was in elementary school, I had a slingshot for hunting birds. To this day, I find it impossible to explain why I indulged in such unsavory behavior.

However, since those youthful days, I never hunted again with either a slingshot or a gun.

I abhor the killing of wild and domesticated animals. They have as much right as we do to exist without fearing hunters may kill them.

I know humans have hunted and killed animals for food. Such open season lasted for millennia. Hunting of wildlife for food is probably still alive in some form or another in most countries of the world.

Hunting for sport is another, even more vicious, kind of killing of wild animals. Affluent European hunters decimated Africa’s wildlife in the nineteenth century.

Hunting for sport is probably just as ancient as killing wild animals for food. Members of the ruling classes in the past and now convince themselves they have divine rights to target wildlife at their convenience and pleasure.

This cruel and perverse habit is especially strong in affluent societies, where people with money and guns give license to their pathological instincts in killing wolves, bears, lions, tigers and other wild animals.

Human footprints

This killing, especially of important large carnivorous animals, adds more unnecessary instability in an already destabilized natural world.

Humans have been leaving their bloody and destructive footprints everywhere in the planet for a very long time.

Their industrialized farming has been producing unhealthy food while generating climate change. The effects are thoroughly unpleasant: insects, birds and small animals are steadily being driven towards extinction.

The logging of the world’s forests, no less than factory farming, disrupts and breaks down ecosystems, all but eliminating biological diversity and degrading land and life.

The damming of wild rivers unsettles water life and pushes countless species over the cliff.

As if these terrible practices, which “civilized” people do routinely, did not produce enough disruption and violence in the natural world, humans have been ravaging the land for petroleum, natural gas, coal, gold, silver, and other minerals.

War against the natural world in Alaska

It’s this political madness and ecological tsunami, the horror humans have been sowing in every wild land of the world, including the forests, rivers, and lands of the United States, that sets the stage for an additional and unusually horrific practice about to start in the parks of Alaska.

The Secretary of the US Department of the Interior, a Trump appointee by the name of David Bernhardt, signed a final rule June 11, 2020, that allows a dark age killing of bears, wolves and their cubs.

This is barbarism triumphant under the guise of restoring the authority of Alaska to do as it pleases with our national treasure of wildlife.

Hunters will be filling buckets with bait to attract bears in order to shoot them.

This reminds me of a story a friend told me of a similar barbaric practice in Michigan. Owners of gasoline stations attract deer with large carrots. Drivers buying gasoline shoot the deer from the comfort of their cars.

Listening to this story I thought he was making things up. But, no, he assured me, he witnessed such shameful affair. This put me in a bad mood.

How could these people be so cruel, so stone-dead in their feelings and emotions? Where did they grow up?

The evolving cruelty in Alaska confirms my friend’s story. The roots of violence against wildlife are deep and widespread.

Local and tourist hunters will soon be killing bears, wolves and their offspring in the vast national parks of Alaska.

This is a gift of the Trump administration, which made it legal to hunt these persecuted animals during the denning season.

Imagine TV-like explorers-hunters loaded with war pistols and guns and high tech flashlights entering holes in the ground or caves to shoot mama wolves and bears and their cubs.

What a tragedy, a charade, and paradigmatic act of utter stupidity. Could we say this is hidden hatred of compromised armed people for the animal emblems of wild freedom? Are these hunters hunting their nightmares or civilization itself?

Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, criticized the Trump administration, but she failed to express the anger of a person dedicated to protecting the threated animals. She was too diplomatic in describing the extraordinary vicious turn of policy:

“Amid the global pandemic, the Trump administration is declaring open season on bears and wolves, through their sport hunting rule on national parklands in Alaska….

“National preserve lands at Denali, Katmai, Gates of the Arctic… [in Alaska] are the very places where people travel from around the world, in hopes of seeing these iconic animals, alive in their natural habitat. Through this administration’s rule, [officials of] such treasured lands will now allow sport hunters to lure bears with greased donut bait piles to kill them, or crawl into hibernating bear dens to shoot bears and cubs.”

Trump above all  

This shameful and uncivilized behavior does fit the pattern of Trump, his administration, and his Republican Party and evangelical supporters. They are operating as if in a conquered territory.

Like the French monarch Louis XIV, Trump said I am the state. I can do anything I want. There’s no climate change. Corporations are right about the environment and pollution. I will follow their guidance.

In about 3.5 years, he reversed the modicum of theoretical and real environmental and public health protection Americans enjoyed.

He put this national dangerous policy into effect in the glare of television and lots of additional publicity. Most large media gloated over the tragic spectacle of a president ordering the demise of America. Yet, for the most part, these national televisions and newspapers have been treating him like a king.

I did not see demonstrations by either environmentalists or public health experts or citizens concerned with the rising pandemics of cancer, neurological disease, and the extinction of species. Climate change, the giant among environmental threats, did bring thousands in the streets of Europe and fewer in America.

This means TV advertisements, business practices and propaganda, and poisons in the food, drinking water, and air have diminished the intelligence of Americans – and people throughout the world. Otherwise, it’s impossible to explain these suicidal tendencies.

I consider the threats to our health and the health of the natural world the highest priorities of any civilized society. And yet, in the US House of Representatives “impeachment” of Trump, these existential threats directly linked to the Trump administration were ignored.

This undemocratic politics explains why Trump feels at home with both the virus pandemic and, potentially, ordering the military to take over the country. Like any other billionaire, Trump feels contempt for democracy.

As long as soldiers are in their barracks, Trump wants to be reelected. He is pleasing trophy hunters and Alaska elites that aspire to the total control of public wealth.

It is possible, though hard to document, that the projected visit of the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., to Alaska for hunting mother grizzly bears and wolves and their cubs had something to do with the demolition of the slight protection these vulnerable animals enjoyed under previous administrations.

Trump’s son goes out of his way to kill wild animals. He even went to Mongolia where he hunted an endangered sheep.

The meaning of vicious hunting

The spectacle of the US government encouraging outrageous attacks on wildlife in Alaska tells us much more than the perverted habits of trophy hunters and the myopic and self-destructive politics of Alaska.

Killing animal mothers and cubs is an act of desperation. The killers have lost their humanity and a sense of living among other citizens under the rule of law. They have become what the Greeks defined as barbarians: people of incomprehensible speech and alien to civilization.

I like to think that Americans will have at least the sense of electing Joe Biden as our next president. His work will be much more difficult than I ever thought. He will be governing a country nearly unhinged by the Republicans, evangelicals, and their commander-in-chief, Trump.

Biden will have to tone down the Wall Street ideology of “me” for “us,” and, no less significant, embrace the environment and wildlife as foundations of our civilization.

Fight climate change and ban killings of mama wolves, grizzly bears and their cubs.

Due to COVID-19, spring bear hunting isn’t happening for non-residents

Due to COVID-19, spring bear hunting isn’t happening for non-residents

brown bear on shoreline in Katmai area
A brown bear in the Katmai area of the Alaska Peninsula, Nov. 18, 2010. (Creative Commons photo by Mandy Lindeberg/NOAA)

After announcing there would be no spring bear hunting in the state, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has partially changed its mind. All non-resident brown and black bear hunts will remain closed through May 31. Spring bear hunting for Alaska residents remains open during that time.

“You know this was all about people moving around the state, specifically about hunters coming up from the lower 48, but also about people going from different communities in Alaska,” said Ryan Scott, assistant director of ADFG’s division of wildlife conservation.

“Right now we don’t have any concerns about bear populations. It remains to be seen how many people will take advantage of it, but it’s really good that resident hunters can get out there and take advantage of the bear opportunities.”

A Thursday letter from Fish and Game commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang reminds resident hunters to abide by health mandates, including social distancing and intrastate travel. That in-state travel between communities is prohibited except for supporting critical infrastructure or for critical personal needs.

Originally the Department closed non-resident and resident bear hunts until the end of May, via emergency order, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alaska. Even though Commissioner Vincent-Lang rescinded a portion of this closure, he emphasizes that general hunting has not been identified as a critical personal need, as defined by Governor Mike Dunleavy’s health mandates.

Scott said the department plans to work with the state’s Board of Game to accommodate hunters who’ve lost the opportunity.

“We recognize that there are lots of non-resident hunters planning to come to Alaska right now both for black bear hunts and brown bear hunts,” Scott said.

“We’re going to be looking for opportunities to move those permits around if we can to give those hunters the chance to come and do it again. We don’t know what it’s going to look like yet and it’s going to take some time to sort all that out. It’s important to recognize that we’ve issued drawing permits for next year already. So it’s going to take some finessing to distribute hunters across the landscape.”

Companies that accommodate out-of-state hunters can charge anywhere from a couple thousand dollars for a week-long self-guided black bear hunt to tens of thousands of dollars for a fully guided hunt from a wilderness lodge or tour boat. Brown bear hunts for non-residents are only allowed with a licensed guide or close relative who is a resident.

Eli Lucas owns Alaska Coastal Hunting, a guiding business based in Petersburg. He said the spring bear season is about half of his income for the year, but he understands the closure had to happen.

“We’ve offered refunds or switching dates but we really don’t know where to put people,” Lucas said. “We actually need more season if we’re going to put somebody to a full calendar because we don’t have room for the next years. And so, the other guides are in the same position. It’s a pretty complicated issue really.”

Outfitters, lodges, boat rentals and float plane companies will also lose business with the closure.

Fish and Game said they will announce further details in the coming days on how these spring bear hunts should be conducted by residents while complying with the Governor’s COVID-19 mandates.

Meanwhile, no closures are anticipated for other spring hunting seasons. And sport fishing remains open in Alaska with no current plans for closure.

Washington State has a temporary closure for its sport fishing along with the Columbia River in Oregon.

Abortion, bear hunting, nude beaches on Florida’s legislative plate

Abortion, nude beaches, and bears are on Florida’s legislative schedule. Oh my.
Monday, February 3rd 2020, 9:14 AM EST

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – So far, zero bills have been sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis from the Florida Legislature.

However, one of the first bills expected to hit DeSantis’ desk is a measure that would require girls under the age of 18 to get a parent’s permission before having an abortion.

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The bill expands on a law that requires parents of minors to be contacted if their daughters get an abortion, but parents don’t have a say in the decision.

Rep. David Smith (R) wants to increase the fine for illegally killing bears or for being in the possession of or selling a dead bear.

A bill trying to put more restrictions on tobacco products is gaining popularity. The measure would raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, require anyone under 30 to be carded before they can buy tobacco, and would only allow cigarette vending machines in places that restrict access to anyone under 21-years-old.

Lastly, a bill that would make nude beaches legal is being considered by the Senate.

All contents © copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Wisconsin’s bear hunt is overkill as species face annihilation

  •  4 min to read
“Frankly, I thought we would be a little more evolved as a species by now.” — Jim Robertson, author of “Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport”

In a Sept. 16 “Democracy Now” segment, Amy Goodman highlighted the Trump administration’s continuing assault on our public lands, opening the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWAR) to drilling leases: “The plan calls for the creation of landing strips, drill pads, pipeline supports, a seawater treatment plant, 175 miles of roads and other infrastructure in Alaska’s north coast.”

Goodman’s guest, Subhankar Banerjee, a professor of art and ecology at thee University of New Mexico, referenced the United Nations’ frightening report on the annihilation of species on earth: “…as I see it, (it) is a bigger crisis than the climate crisis, that is unfolding before us — the media has miserably failed to inform the public — which is the crisis of extinction … the scientists call it ‘biological annihilation.’ Earlier this year, the United Nations IPBES released what is considered, for some of us, the grimmest warning of human history, that 1 million species on Earth, which is about more than 50% of the documented species on the planet, face extinction, many within decades … since 1970, globally, monitored populations of vertebrates, which includes birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, have declined, on average, in population 60%.”

The bear hunt continues into its third week of five, Sept. 4-Oct. 8. Most of the 3,835 bears (plus agricultural tags) have been killed either by the dogs, or the men, women and children who enjoy killing bears. At $49 per bear, it is a cheaper rug than from Walmart. It is likely to be a small rug since most of the bears killed are less than a year-and-a-half old, but there is that thrill, adrenaline rush, selfie with the carcass and trophy to take home. Little bear cubs hide in a tree watching their mother be killed. The mother bear may return from running killers away from her cubs to find her cubs killed or disappeared. Little bear orphans need their mothers to teach them how to den and need mother bear’s warmth in the first winter during the human-caused dip of polar vortexes.

The bear kill is a more than $1 million dollar business for the DNR’s recruitment and retention of more wildlife killers in hunting courses across our school systems and state. But if we had a democratic structure for governing our wildlife, each of the 5.7 million citizens of Wisconsin could throw in 50 cents each and come up with over $2.5 million to save our bears and wildlife killed in traps.

Structural revolution to democratic funding will not happen under Republican cruel rule. It has not been a priority for either party. It will require public awareness and intensive pressure, urgently needed and sadly lacking.

To add to the mayhem in the woods, out of sight, the bow hunting season on deer started Sept. 14. The nine-day “traditional” deer kill was an endurance test for those of us who live with wildlife in rural areas. Now archery and crossbow killing persist through Jan. 5, 2020. Extended bow hunting seasons continue in 22 counties through Jan. 31.

Overkill is an understatement.

Wisconsin legislators and the DNR promote unregistered, unlimited bear baiting and bear hounding in our public lands July 1-Aug. 31 continuing now throughout the five-week kill.

According to Wolf Patrol, which monitors the bear hounding: “In Wisconsin, 95% of legally killed black bears are taken with the aid of bait and/or dogs. An estimated 4 million gallons of bait and 15,000 bear hounds are dumped annually in Wisconsin to attract and chase bears. And it’s not just baiting that is allowed, but as many baits as a hunter wants to use, all with no requirement for any hunting license or registration, preventing conservation officers from assuring that bear baits in our national forests are in compliance with even the minimal requirements.”

Killers from other states, or in-state, do not have to be licensed to run packs of dogs — exhausting bears, running mothers away from cubs for hours or days — just when bears should be eating every day to put on weight for winter hibernation.

An Aug. 2017 Wisconsin Public Radio segment discussed that “new research shows bear bait makes up more than 40 percent of a black bear’s diet in northern Wisconsin, and bait could be playing a role in the high density of bears up north, researchers say.” Attempts to ban chocolate in bait, which has killed bears in neighboring states, were defeated by hunters at the annual DNR election and vote in April.

The Wolf Patrol is clamoring for restraint, having reported many non-compliant bait piles and hunters with not six dogs, but 30 dogs in 10 trucks, running bears day and night in unlimited abuse:

“It’s time for Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials to bring an end to bear baiting and hound training in Wisconsin, where it’s (wreaking) havoc on wildlife and causing conflicts with wolves and other forest users. Nowhere else in the country are bear hunters allowed to dump as much bear bait as they desire, and chase the bears it attracts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Action Alert:

Please send the links to Madravenspeak bear columns to Gov. Evers and tell him that it is time for a first-time democracy in funding and fair, proportionate non-hunter participation in decisions to protect our wildlife.

Silence and inaction are complicity in this cruelty.

Over 650,000 citizens have signed a petition against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. You can sign here: https://www.change.org/p/no-drilling-in-the-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge?signed=true

Attend the world premiere of “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch,” sponsored by the Nelson Institute. from 7-9 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the Marquee Theater in Union South on the UW-Madison campus.

Bear activists: Using snare trap for research is cruel


WEST MILFORD — Several bear activists are condemning the state Department of Fish and Wildlife for their use of snare traps to capture bears for research purposes after a West Milford resident, on her evening bike ride, found a bear cub screaming and tugging after it had been captured.

“It was horrifying; it’s just torture,” said Shari McAtee, who was riding her bike around 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, when she heard a loud noise. She investigated and about a half mile into the woods on Schoolhouse Road she found the cub, which she estimated weighed about 40 pounds. McAtee video recorded the distressed bear on her cell phone, showing it pulling on the cable attached to its leg that had been tied about three feet away on a nearby tree.

“I had no idea what was going on. We are near Clinton Road, so I was thinking maybe this was some sort of horrible joke or worship of some sort,” McAtee said.

McAtee said she called 911 and a few friends who are fellow bear activists.

Her friends and two West Milford police officers arrived along with a security guard with Newark’s Pequannock Watershed area, which encompasses portions of Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties. The police officers removed the restrained bear from the tree, McAtee said, but the cable remained on the bear’s leg.

McAtee said everyone dispersed after the bear was released from the tree — still with the cable attached to its leg — but on Monday morning around 8 a.m., she returned to the site and found the cub caught in some brush and crying.

Around 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 9, she saw DEP staff come out to the scene, tranquilize the bear and release the trap from its leg, McAtee said.

Caryn Shinske, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Environmental Protection, said via email that the department was notified the bear had been released so DEP staff went to the site, tracked the bear and captured it. They removed the cable, tagged the bear and released it unharmed, she said.

The division, she said, is “investigating” the bear’s release from the restraint but she did not go into further detail.

Shinske told the New Jersey Herald that Division of Fish and Wildlife staff check traps at least once every 24 hours, but may check sooner if a report comes in of an animal capture.

But McAtee believes keeping a bear tied up for 24 hours, or what she thinks may be more, is torture.

“What if someone tied your leg to a tree and you tried moving back and forth and had no idea what was going on with no food and water?” McAtee said.

The Aldrich foot snare is the main method used by the state for trapping and tagging bears, about 150 to 200 in a given year, Larry Herrighty, director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, told the New Jersey Herald last year. The device, which consists of a spring-activated foot snare, is typically placed in a hole and covered with leaves and then fastened to a steel cable, which usually is attached to a nearby tree to hold it in place.

McAtee said the trapped cub’s mother was nearby on Sunday, along with another young bear, both of whom were “pacing around,”

While Herrighty told the New Jersey Herald in the interview last year that snares are always accompanied by signage to warn would-be hikers or passers-by of the trap, McAtee claims she did not see one.

″(The Division) is torturing these bears, trapping them and leaving them there,” she said, adding that if the division puts out snares, they should be watching them at all times and be right there when a bear is caught.

While she doesn’t believe New Jersey “has the population to hunt bears,” she does think there could be better alternatives to control the bear population, such as contraceptives.

In a statement released Thursday, the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, a self-described grassroots coalition of outdoorsmen, condemned the actions of McAtee and her fellow bear activists, including Angi Metler, who is the director of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey, for “interfering” with the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s research.

“This is a great example of how violent anti-hunting extremist organizations interfere with valid and badly-needed scientific research,” said NJOA spokesman Cody McLaughlin, “On the one hand, extremists harass Division Of Fish and Wildlife scientists while performing their essential research and promote a ban on traps that assist the division in such research.”

The state, in addition to testing the bears for ticks and various other diseases, uses the ratio of tagged bears taken during the annual hunt as a gauge of hunter success rates and to guide its ongoing bear management programs.

McAtee, however, says there is “no justifiable science basis to study bears for the purpose of hunting.”

Humans, not glaciers, likely doomed Ice Age cave bears

Analysis of genetic material from dozens of prehistoric bears shows that their decline neatly matches the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe.

Neanderthals lived in Europe for thousands of centuries, and during that time, they had to watch their step. Mammoths, woolly rhinos, and saber-tooth cats were common in the region, and the caves these human relatives would sometimes enter for shelter were often already occupied by cave bears, the heaviest adults of which may have weighed over 2,000 pounds.

Today, controversy swirls around the question of why all these large animals eventually disappeared. Some scientists think they were victims of the last glacial maximum, which peaked around 26,500 years ago. Other experts have argued that the appearance of a new human species with a knack for hunting, Homo sapiens, could have driven the unfortunate beasts to extinction.

Now, research presented in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that in the case of cave bears, humans most likely played a crucial role.

“If not for our arrival in Europe, I don’t see any reason why cave bears should not be around today,” says study coauthor Hervé Bocherens, a paleobiologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany who has studied cave bear remains for 30 years.

In some ways, the result may foreshadow the situation of today’s brown bear, which currently has a stable population but may soon be at risk due to conflicts with humans in an increasingly crowded and warming world. (Find out why living brown bears retain traces of cave bear DNA.)

Clan of the cave bear

Bocherens and a team of researchers led by Verena Schuenemann at the University of Zürich in Switzerland collected the remains of 59 cave bears found across Europe to extract what’s known as mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA. These small bits of genetic material are only inherited from an animal’s mother and can reveal genetic relationships between animals found at different locations. Crucially, however, mtDNA can also provide clues to past population sizes.

“Models of the genetics of populations tell us that the more diverse the mtDNA found in fossils from the same period, the larger the population must have been, allowing us to estimate the number of bears at any point in time,” Bocherens says.

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When the scientists ran their analysis, the data suggested that the cave bear decline started some 40,000 years ago—long before the last ice age set in. This also means that cave bears thrived throughout a number of earlier periods when temperatures significantly decreased. Instead, their downward trend starts right about the same time that our species began to spread across Europe.

“There is some evidence suggesting some modern humans may have set foot in Europe even earlier,” Bocherens says. “But as far as we know, they only really populated the continent around the time the cave bears start declining.”

Though Neanderthals were probably killing cave bears as well, modern humans may have used more advanced hunting techniques and were probably more likely to venture into caves, Bocherens argues. Soon, anatomically modern humans became much more numerous than Neanderthals had ever been, sealing the cave bear’s fate.

The work “represents the maximum amount of information we can get from mtDNA data,” says Michael Knapp, a paleobiologist now based at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Knapp was not involved in the present study, but he published an earlier paper based on a more limited dataset that found similar results.

Bear necessities

Humans may have killed cave bears not just for their meat, but also for their fur or even simply because they were perceived as a threat. And as more humans settled in Europe, cave bears may have had a harder time moving into milder climates when it became cold, or finding the abundant plant foods required to sustain their large bodies. Remnant populations survived only in remote corners of Europe, such as the Italian Alps, where the most recent remains appear to be about 24,000 years old.

“Yet as these populations grew more and more isolated, they became genetically impoverished, as it was increasingly difficult for animals to travel between populations to find a mate,” Bocherens says. This may have weakened their offspring and could have made the bears more vulnerable to disease.

Meanwhile, brown bears survived into the modern era, perhaps because they were smaller and had more flexible diets that included meat they probably scavenged from large predators. Still, the decline of the cave bears carries a warning for brown bears, Bocherens says.

“First of all,” he says, “it shows that the most isolated populations are at risk, and that we should do whatever we can to allow some exchange of individuals between them, even if that means moving animals around ourselves.”

Perhaps even more importantly, he adds, the climate is again changing drastically, this time due to the actions of Homo sapiens, and that meansit is not enough to have nature reserves where the animals are left alone. In a world increasingly cluttered with roads, railways, fences, and buildings, we must also preserve the bears’ ability to travel around and keep their populations healthy and diverse.

“Species may survive a changing climate if they can track the changing temperatures,” Bocherens says. “But as the example of the cave bear shows us, climate change can be a very big problem if you cannot move.”

Trump Wants to Make Alaska’s Protected Wilderness a Hunting Ground

A video featuring a father and son slaughtering a mother black bear and then her two screaming newborn cubs in their den has ricocheted around the world, drawing obvious comparisons to the killing of Cecil, the African lion, by a Minnesota dentist several years ago.

Sadly, the shocking brutality the two men displayed for the world to see could soon be sanctioned by this administration. The Department of the Interior proposes to make legal these and other venal trophy-hunting practices on more federal public lands in Alaska. In 2017, Congress and the president overturned a 2016 rule governing 76 million acres of National Wildlife Refuge System lands, and effectively prohibited the trophy hunting of hibernating black bears.

This administration has shown a penchant for supplicating itself to trophy hunters and trappers. At a time when most Americans regard trophy hunting with revulsion, the Trump administration plans to overturn two federal rules prohibiting the most deplorable trophy hunting and trapping practices ever carried out on federal lands in Alaska.

Also at risk is a 2016 rule concerning the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge that prohibited the hunting of brown bears over bait and the discharge of weapons within one-quarter mile of heavily used recreational areas, including campgrounds, trailheads and rivers. This rule also prohibited trophy hunting and trapping in high-use public zones in the Kenai refuge.

A wildlife camera captures Andrew Renner and his son, Owen, illegally killing a mother bear and her cubs in Alaska. The camera, originally set up as part of a wildlife study, also documents them tampering with evidence two days later.
A wildlife camera captures Andrew Renner and his son, Owen, illegally killing a mother bear and her cubs in Alaska. The camera, originally set up as part of a wildlife study, also documents them tampering with evidence two days later.

Another element of the mess at issue is that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game works under the auspices of Intensive Management, a paradigm that privileges hunting interests over wildlife conservation. Intensive Management permits the wholesale slaughter of wolves and bears in the mistaken belief that killing lots of these native carnivores will increase game herds for humans. That approach has utterly failed, however, most importantly because the Arctic’s fragile ecosystems cannot support unlimited numbers of herbivores. The result is a management strategy that has decimated Alaska’s native carnivore communities and encouraged an increase in the animal species most likely to cause harm to the landscape and environment.

When will it all end? Trophy hunters and trappers have killed wolves in Denali National Park and Preserve and along its boundaries in such numbers that tourists have all but lost their chance to witness wolves, including the famous and storied East Fork (Toklat) Pack, studied and admired since the 1930s.

The same is true for grizzly bears. Because of Intensive Management, Alaska’s great bears are now in great jeopardy. The state’s sanction of extreme hunting practices threatens to shrink native carnivore populations, to the dismay of biologists who study these majestic animals and to the great loss of all Americans who care about them. Such trophy hunting and predator-control practices should not be allowed on federal lands anywhere, and especially not in our national preserves and refuges in Alaska.

As of the previous census, wildlife-watching is a $2 billion-a-yearindustry in Alaska that contributes far more to local economies than trophy hunting and trapping ever could. Alaska’s wildlife-watching tourism outperforms the funds generated in the state from all hunting activities (and the extreme methods at issue here account for only a tiny fraction of that amount).

Wolves, black bears and grizzly bears represent an extraordinary lure for tourists, and they will continue to compel the interest of all Americans for decades. If their populations are hindered on these public lands, local economies could falter. But more importantly, we will all suffer the loss that their death and disappearance from our wild spaces entails.

Our national parks, preserves and wildlife refuges were founded “to conserve species and habitats in their natural diversity … for the benefit of present and future generations.” Overturning these rules and catering to trophy hunters moves us backward. That’s the wrong direction, and we shouldn’t let it happen.

Sign a petition urging Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to oppose the rule that would overturn the 2015 National Park Service rule currently protecting iconic wildlife from trophy hunters and trappers on federal U.S. lands.

This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.