Increase in nuisance bears indicates population too large

Posted: Monday, May 09, 2005

Last night, for the third year in a row, brown bears busted into my mom and dad's chicken coop and killed their birds. They tore down a fence and actually broke out a window, climbed in and killed the ducks inside the coop. These are birds my kids helped raise from babies and named. They were pets that would come when you called them. The bears only left when my dad shot to frighten them away.

Just for the record, we don't leave garbage outside. We don't leave chicken food where the bears can get to it. We have done everything that Fish and Game recommends to discourage bears from coming around, with no luck.

This is just one more obvious sign that we have too many bears in this area. I grew up on the same homestead where my mom and dad still live. In all those years we rarely saw even a sign of bear, let alone the bear itself. I don't remember a single time they actually had the chutzpa to come into the yard and kill livestock.

We now live a half mile away from my folks and have chickens of our own. They live in covered eight-foot-tall fence reinforced with heavy cable, a pen that bristles with electric wire. I just hope it's enough. My kids will now spend the next few weeks driving the long way to see Papa and Grammie because I don't feel safe letting them walk through the field. We will walk the dog while carrying a shotgun.

I know I will stir up a lot of bear lovers with these comments, but my guess is that they don't have any kids or animals that need protecting. We need to let the hunters hunt and we need to kill nuisance bears. Don't talk to me about relocating problem bears. Fish and Game tried that 3 years ago with the bear that killed chickens and ducks at my folks' house that summer. The bear they trapped and relocated over 50 miles away was back in the yard trying to kill the dog 52 hours later. That one had to be shot.

I know that people will say that the bears were here first, that we need to protect them. That theory doesn't seem too valid when it is your pets and your children that are in danger. Tell me, which one of your kids, or your grandkids, would you put into harm's way to protect a brown bear?

How many people need to get mauled before we change the rules? How many people need to alter their behavior before we address the real problem: too many bears.

So let's be real here folks. We need to get rid of some bears. We need to quit shortening the season when "too many" bears are killed in defense of life and property. Think about it ... if people are having to kill bears in their yards to keep them from attacking their pets, or, God forbid, their kids, it stands to reason that maybe we have too many bears. Don't stop the bear season because people have had to kill dangerous bears. It just doesn't make sense.

I'm sure the officials will want a study. They'll want to know if we have a healthy population. They'll want to know exactly how many bears there are in the area. Well, I can tell them one thing. There are three too many healthy chicken-fed ones at our place. If you want them, come get them, because once they get a taste for it they will be back.

I just hope that next time they are not in the mood for a different kind of meal.

Debbie Clonan, Sterling



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