A piece of me dies every time we kill another bear because it’s so unnecessary. Then, I cringe when I hear the term “death threats,” because I know that people are mistakenly linking these actions with the BEAR League, and they couldn’t be more wrong.
The BEAR League has done so much to help bears; furthermore, the organization does not promote or condone offensive behavior such as this. Many people associate themselves with the BEAR League, myself included, who are not official members. Some of these people indulge themselves in behavior that goes against everything the BEAR League stands for and is trying to accomplish.
Sadly, when people foolishly make threats like these, they end up hurting the bears. When people harass other people in the name of the BEAR League, it besmirches the name of the BEAR League and chips away at the legitimacy of the organization and hinders its ability to do the good work that it does.
The BEAR League has the ability to diffuse a bear situation without killing the bear. Involving the Nevada Department of Wildlife, however, often results in a dead bear. A dead bear certainly does solve the problem, doesn’t it?
But what is wrong with us? We are not a barbaric society, are we? We don’t need to solve our problems by killing, do we?
The BEAR League’s method may not immediately solve the problem — it takes more effort, more diligence, more awareness, more time. And the bear may leave the current situation only to begin making a nuisance of itself in another location.
So then, we begin again, and do it again and again until the bear finally gets the message and moves away from civilization, back into the wild. That sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? How much effort should we expend to save the life of one bear? In my opinion—As much as it takes.
We all do stupid things, and I am no exception. Back in 2009, I kept giant bags of bird seed in a large bin outside my front door. I had a few visitors in the night — raccoons and a bear and realized I had to move the seed inside. One bear didn’t get the memo and he paid a visit one night in February.
Somewhere around 3 or 4 in the morning, there arose such a clatter! I leapt out of bed, thinking there must be a bear on the deck.
It was a bear all right, the biggest bear I had ever seen! He was so big that he couldn’t turn around on the porch. He had thrown the gate off the top of the stairs like it was made of matchsticks and he was determined he was going to take the bin with him, even though it was empty.
He was pulling on the bin, trying to drag it to the stairs, not realizing that they were both too big. He was not at all concerned that my houseful of dogs and I were barking our heads off as I beat on the door.
Determined to scare him away and realizing that this wasn’t working, I opened the door. We were face to face — I think he was more surprised than I. I immediately shut the door — I’m not completely crazy, but that small action convinced him that it was time to go.
He backed up and down the stairs he went, never to return. That’s how I met Bubba, whom many of you may remember. He became a legend sometime after that — breaking into homes and a church and he became a “Wanted Bear - Dead, not Alive.”
My point to this story is this — if we do things that attract bears to our homes, then we need to realize it and change our behavior. And if I can scare away a bear like Bubba by simply opening a door, why do we need to continually kill these animals?
Bubba may have been an exception — he caused a lot of damage and scared a good number of people. However, we are terribly wrong to be automatically killing these “problem” bears. With a little more effort, we can find another way. Call the BEAR League 530-525-7297 to find out how you can become part of the solution.
Toree Warfield is an avid nature lover, and writes this column to teach and stimulate interest in the marvels that surround us. See save-our-planet-earth.blogspot.com to read columns and to find links to bird song recordings, additional photos and other content.