Friday, November 6, 2009

Hunters, Bears & Forest Rangers....

For those of you that don't follow me on "Facebook", I'll give you a quick story of how this post came about. My friend Van and I headed out to Daniel Ridge Loop to go on a hike and use different settings on my new camera. Well, about 1/2 mile into the woods, we encountered three hunters that were dragging a dead bear cub behind them. Of course, I was totally freaked out by the whole thing and one of the guys said "that's damn good eatin" ~ to which I replied, "I wouldn't know and don't care to find out". So the rest of our hike was just a little sad and I couldn't stop thinking about that little baby bear. Then, when we were headed back to the parking lot, we came across a little hunting dog that had no collar, was skinny as could be and clearly had recently given birth to puppies. Nobody was around, so I assumed she had been abandoned by some hunters that didn't want her anymore. I told Van that if she followed us to the car, she was coming with us. But she stayed right on the bridge, like she was waiting for somebody. So all night long I struggled with the decision I made to leave the dog and with the harrowing images stuck in my head from the baby bear and it's killers. So I started writing about my whole experience on facebook and, honestly, was quite surprised by the outpouring of responses I received. Thanks to Debra {whom is awesomely awesome, by the way}. the Transylvania County Forest Ranger caught wind of my story and paid me a visit last night.

First of all, he told me what Debra had already researched and found out {and also mentioned that she knows the law better than him} ~ bear hunting is legal in this county, it's legal in most of Pisgah National Forest, including all the hiking areas, and baby bears can be killed, as long as they weigh over 50 lbs.! BUT, the hunters are only allowed to kill 1 bear each per season and they are supposed to report every kill, so it can be recorded. He said that these bear killers are just a different breed of people and most of them are really rude and obnoxious ~ he said that he was surprised they even spoke to me at all. He said that these guys work in "packs" and carry radios to let each other know when the "rangers" were coming. I printed out the pictures I had taken and he said he could probably identify them, even though the picture was from the back. At a minimum, they would be fined for not wearing "hunter orange" when carrying a gun, which is the law in this county. Also, he was anxious to find out if they had even reported the bear, since they are only allowed 1 each year/per hunter, most hunters save their kill for an adult bear. But, he said that they get everybody and their brother a "hunting license" and then use that person's "punch card" for the bear kill. He thanked both Debra and I and said it takes people like us to put a stop to illegal killings by these guys. And then I asked him about the little dog.....

....He said that as long as he's been a ranger here, which has been many years, he's never seen or heard of these bear hunters abandoning their dogs in the forest. He said all of these guys know each other and know each others dogs, so if that little dog was waiting by the bridge {which is a pick up/drop off point}, her owner, or another hunter would pick her up. He said they wouldn't bother hauling her all the way to the forest, just to leave her there. He also said she was probably younger than she looked, since these dogs have a pretty rough life as bear hunters. He said they get in fights with the bears all the time, trying to tree them. I asked him about her collar being missing and he said that some people don't believe in the way these dogs are being treated and will take their collars off and throw them in the woods. What they don't realize though, is that this usually causes the dog more harm than good, since they are then lost from the hunters and their radios. That's how they get left in the woods. They usually find their way back to the drop off point, or to the campsite, but it can take days sometimes. So, by trying to do these dogs a favor, they are causing them more harm. He also said that these dogs could never make good "pets" because of how they are raised. He said he's picked up some of the dogs before and held them for the hunters. He'll let them know he has them and they'll come pick them up. So, he said I did good by leaving the dog where she was, which made me feel tons better. So, that's that ~ thanks for all the comments everybody! I'm off the Zumba class!!

♥ & peace always ~ Kathy

"Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

7 comments:

  1. That is so sad and maddening! To kill a baby bear or any bear. I wonder how much they use and how much they just discard; so wasteful and unnecessary. Hunting season will start in earnest here tomorrow with modern gun and it's the one I hate the most. I understand overpopulation, but it's not as if humans are doing the planet any big favors...sometimes I wonder at humankind; knowing there's so much good and so many good, peaceful people makes it easier, but I don't understand so much of the hatred and killing.
    WAGE PEACE.

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  2. Aw sweets... I can totally relate. I've done the wrong thing with similar dog situations in the past and it's caused me more grief later on than just knowing the dog was on its own. So totally proud of you though for thinking to take a picture of the guys. That is guts for sure. Big hugs. Who knew when you left LA you'd go from jewelry maven to engaged animal activist?♥

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  3. I love ya'll!!! You're right, Charlie ~ if I would have taken the dog, she would have ended up at the pound and chances are these idiots would not want to spend any $$ on an old hunting dog to get her out. Then she would have been put to death and that would have been way harder for me to "bear" ~ ♥

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  4. Oh Kathy, this just saddens me so much, but I'm really proud of you for taking the pictures and speaking to the park ranger. I wondered too about what Jen mentioned and how much they actually "use" of the bear. I could "bear" it a little more if I knew they at least used everything they could like in the old hunting days. Sadly, it's probably more for sport than actual use. Stay strong honey pie! Love you.

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  5. Remember to wear your hunter's orange when your out on your hikes!! Don't want one of these hunters mistaking you for something to kill.

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  6. What a sad story and I'm so sorry you had to witness any of it. Poor little bear, can't get the image out of my mind either. Kudos to you!

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  7. It took a awhile to figure out how to get here from your FB page. But it worked. Glad you posted the whole story. I learned so much form Michael Rising. The Wildlife Officers have a tough go. Even when they catch hunters breaking the law, it's hard to get the charges to stick in court because the regulations have been greatly weakened by some very aggessive hunters' groups. For example, a change from 50 lbs. to 100 lbs for a cub was on its way to being law for this season, but hunters' groups derailed it.

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Thanks for your comments ~ ♥

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