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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Black Bears

I have a resident black bear on my property. I have seen it twice and spotted scat not far from our log cabin. I watched it a couple of day ago cross the road at the edge on my property. It was coming up from the river. Later in the day, i saw it make the return journey.

I love the black bears. They are gentle, quiet creatures that mostly forage for berries and roots. It is a privilege to have them in large numbers in Canada. Bears around the World are under great stress from loss of habitat. In Europe, they are rare. In Asia, they are dropping in numbers in the wild. There is also a long cultural tradition in Asia of capturing bears and displaying they as a circus animal. This is a sad sight of the abuse of a wild independent animal.

In Ontario, bears are hunted, mostly for trophies and not food. They are hunted mostly by American hunters. Local people seem disinterested in this hunt. When there was a Spring bear hunt, (It was banned a few years ago by the government) I was often amused to spot American hunters in our small town, dressed like Rambo. When you engaged them in conversation and asked them what they were doing in the area, (quite off the beaten track) they invariably replied, "We is hunting the b'ar! Mostly they were from the mid-Atlantic states or Ohio.

In the Spring hunt they used dogs to flush out the bears so often hunters travelled with a pack of hounds. The lead hound rode on a platform on the hood of the pick-up truck. It was quite a show.

Bear hunting is really a disgusting hunt where the bear does not have a chance. Smelly baits are put out that attract the bears. From a tree stand the bear is slaughtered not hunted. Those that use dogs drive the logging roads and let them loose when they pick up a scent. The dogs tree the bear and the hunter merely has to slaughter the bear in the tree.

The Spring is the time sows have cubs with them. While sows were not to be killed invariably cubs were orphaned. I think this is why the government shut down this part of the industry. There is still a bear hunt in the Fall which had it's season lengthened to where there are still family vacationers in the bush. (An accident waiting to happen.)

Bear, like wolves before them, have been wrongly portrayed as vicious dangerous animals. In fact, they are quiet and gentle and shy, particularly the Black Bear. They will retreat more than attack when confronted. In the movies and the public mind bears are represented as displaying their teeth in a threatening display. This is not a normal bear display.

Given the great number of bear and people contacts there are few attacks. There are ill-tempered bears that are aggressive which means all encounters with bears should be treated with respect and caution. From a short distance it is interesting to observe these wonderful, playful animals that are wonderful mothers. They only want to be left alone to forage for food and care for their young.

To watch a truly wild large animal, like a bear, going about it's life in the wild is an awe inspiring experience much more exciting and profound than watching one in a zoo.

It is truly sad to see a dead bear dumped in the back of a pick-up or just the head displayed as a hood ornament on some truck as a bragging trophy for some less than noble hunter.

There are noble hunters who hunt for food, say a little prayer for the sacrifice the animal makes and offers a gift of tobacco to the spirit of the bear after the kill. All killing for food, should be done with reverence and respect.

To view a wonderful slideshow on bears visit this website , http://www.bear.org/SlideShows/HiddenWorldOfBears/Intro.html

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