Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Nice Rug

I've been out of New Jersey for 8 and a half years and some things have changed. The big one that applies to this week is the NJ bear hunt. I have to say that I don't know much about the reasoning behind it beyond the little bit I see here and there. First things first, I have absolutely ZERO issue with it. I'm not moved in the least.

Growing up, I never saw a bear. Hearing about bears in our part of NJ never happened. To my knowledge there was no bear hunt at that time either. If there was, it wasn't well publicized like it is today. I tend to think it didn't even happen, but I could be wrong. Bears were not part of our life back then. Since that time, the numbers of their population have, obviously, been on the rise. I remember the first time a bear got stuck in a tree in Powder Mill (the neighborhood my parents live in, for those not from the area). It was big news. People were taking pictures, folks from all over came to see a bear in a tree in a residential area, and it took the police/forestry/whoever several days to get it down. By now, bears in the area aren't something people even bat an eye at. That, to me, means there are too many of them. When it happens so much that you inure yourself to the event, you become complacent. Maybe bears are naturally peaceful, but any animal, when provoked, will defend itself. Provocation can be anything. I don't know how a bear's mind works. Given the people, houses, cars, noises, etc, it's safe to say that NJ neighborhoods are not the natural habitat for bears. And let's face facts, even when provoked and angered, a squirrel will not eat your face. Maybe a bear will, maybe it won't; but it has the ability to.

Should we be decimating forests and creating living environments where bears once roamed freely? I don't know, probably not, but we're people. There's a hierarchy and a food chain here. We are above bears and other quadrupeds on that food chain. So if we need a place to live, then so be it. The anti-bear hunt movement people are certainly complaining from their homes, not a hut in the woods where they peacefully coexist with nature.

Bears pose a risk to people, end of story. Whether they are an actual risk at every moment is not the point. They are big and heavy with the capability to do damage to a person or a vehicle. They are not evolved and cannot communicate with us. We can't sit and come to a peaceful resolution with a bear. We have to protect ourselves and our children. It's a pretty simple equation.

The fact that there is a bear hunt week shows good planning. It is not open season all year round. You can't just run around town shooting every black, furry creature you find. It is right before hibernation season, which, I believe, is also gestation season for the females. In the spring there are hungry, sleepy-eyed bears looking for food. Let's make sure your 5-year old is not the nearest snack.

If having a week out of the year where we can hold a managed, planned event that helps thin the population of a potentially dangerous animal and protects our own species, then why not? Let's not also forget the one fact that the "save Yogi-ists" seem to overlook. We build. More buildings, concrete, roads, cars, etc. Less trees, bushes, berries, etc. Put those together and it's less food and living spaces for the bears. Then add in the fact that when a mama bear and a papa bear love each other very much they make little bears. More bears, less food. That means they're looking for YOUR porridge, even if it's in the cupboard. We are all aware that bears have a keen sense of smell, yes? Thinning the bear population not only protects people, but also allows the ones that live to have more at their disposal.

I'm not a hunter. I can't shoot and butcher a bear. I don't have the intestinal fortitude to do so. I am emotionally and morally equipped, just not digestively. If I had it in me to disembowel Winnie the Pooh, then I would. I'd certainly do that before I let him eat my trash, my flowers, my food, and my head. Plus, bear rugs are comfy.

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