Vail Daily letter: Obligation to bears
Vail, CO, Colorado
Response to the recent story “State will sell more licenses to hunt bears in Roaring Fork Valley”
A high number of human and bear conflicts does not mean that there is a correspondingly high bear population. It likely means that natural food is unavailable to bears because of environmental factors or anthropogenic threats to habitat. Bears coming into human areas are either desperate, habituated to humans, or both.
The Division of Wildlife’s increased bear hunt will not achieve its purported purpose of reducing conflicts, but it will serve to limit the bear population.
Bears are slow to reproduce themselves. A female will have two or three cubs every other year, but only if she has sufficient food.
Not all those cubs survive. Therefore, every Colorado bear counts.
In short, killing black bears to prevent negative interactions between humans and bears does not work, and I would argue that the current kill rate on bears in Colorado may be unsustainable.
It is some of the highest level in recorded history, coupled with an exponential loss of bear habitat.
Hunting bears will not address another deep-seated problem: the DOW’s lack of will to take enforcement steps against those feeding bears.
Instead of this hard work, it relies on hunters to counteract a problem. But it’s a solution the agency itself admits won’t work because the wrong bears are killed – those in the back country – not the ones in the back yards.
On the other hand, residents in bear county must absolutely step up and take personal responsibility for Colorado’s bears.
As a community and a society, we have an obligation not to feed or habituate them. To do so spells their doom, both to individuals and at a population level.
Director of Carnivore Protection Program, WildEarth Guardians