To the editor:
Aside from fools leaving garbage and dog food out, and freaking out when they see a bear around their place, there's another issue in the spate of bear encounters: "Hunters" are allowed to "bait" bears in order to bring them into convenient killing zones, often close to residential areas. As a "hunter" recently said "Without baiting, bears would be hard to find." Maybe that's why it's called "hunting," not "training."
Where I live, just north of Fairbanks, people set bait stations with dog food and human goodies. The bears become habituated to this man-made food, the same stuff found in and around residences. Then people react with terror when bears come looking for more man-made goodies. Think, people: This is not rocket science!
A long-time Alaskan, I'm not anti-hunting, nor a PETA activist. I'm concerned that current practices are going to create a real tragedy.
Doesn't this "baiting" in close proximity to developing residential areas seem ironic, even ridiculous? I am against the practice because it teaches bears to look for non-natural sources of food early in the year when they are post-hibernation hungry and have few options. Baiting sets up confrontations between humans and wildlife. As our population grows and areas outside the city are more densely developed, bear encounters will become more frequent. If current practices prevail, the headline may soon be "Child killed in residential area by habituated bear seeking food."
Why should "hunters," for their convenience, be allowed to train bears to seek out food sources provided by humans, the majority of whom want to avoid up-close-and-personal meetings with the big beasts?
Bear baiting is not hunting-it's bear desensitization and bear training. Get out the Webster's Dictionary and look up the words. Then take another look at our wildlife management practices. Something has to change!
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, fur seals are a depleted species.
Zacharof faces up to one year in prison and a $20,000 fine when he is sentenced this fall.