Ely-area research bear killed
A radio-collared bear associated with the North American Bear Center in Ely has apparently been killed, despite a call for hunters to spare the collared-bears.
The blood-spattered collar of a yearling named Sarah was anonymously dropped off in a Department of Natural Resources mailbox Tuesday morning, said Sue Mansfield, a biologist at the Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center.
“It’s hard, it’s just so hard,” she said.
Read the entire news story HERE.
I just don’t get it. Last week [and again today] the Minnesota DNR issues this news release asking for Minnesota’s bear hunters to avoid shooting radio-collared bears that are being used for various research projects in Minnesota. Of course, as the story above eludes to, someone within our hunting ranks apparently didn’t get the memo. More importantly, their actions are making the rest of us hunters look bad and that deeply concerns me.
Who do I blame for this? Of course, it seems only logical to blame the person who killed the bear. Even though they broke no Minnesota laws his/her actions are being viewed very negatively by the non-hunting public. Moreover, the person shooting the bear should have admitted his/her mistake by reporting it properly (as requested to do so in the news release) rather than doing the cowardly thing of just anonymously dropping off the bloodied collar at some DNR office.
But let’s set those details aside for just a moment. I blame the Minnesota DNR for even putting us hunters in that position. Seriously, if you’re going to make a big deal out of this then why not make the act of killing a research bear a violation of law or rule. Certainly the MN DNR Commissioner could have promulgated such an order. Instead, issuing press releases asking for cooperation that subsequently doesn’t get followed damages our reputation as an entire class of sportsmen.
The point is if you don’t want fluorescently collared research bears killed then make it a game violation so the person who doesn’t follow the desired rules gets properly labeled—”poacher” or “game law violator.” Instead, the person who committed this act gets named as a “hunter” and that makes us all out to appear as untrustworthy, blood-thirsty, uncaring individuals who fail to play by any ethical rules set forth for our sport.
Oh, sure, I know what the DNR is thinking…by not having the shooting of a research bear a law violation it gives the hunter who legitimately makes a mistake some slack. I’d buy that thinking…except for the fact now in S.E. Minnesota the DNR expects me to count a deer’s antlers to make sure it qualifies as a legal buck. Surely most hunters would agree the task of identifying a brightly colored collar on a bear is easier to determine than counting points on a buck at a distance. Agree?
Believe me, I’m not defending the person who shot the research bear in any way. I rather think their behavior totally lacked good judgment throughout this entire incident.
Yet, if the Minnesota DNR would have made the killing of a research bear a wildlife violation, then the perpetrator of such an act would be distinguished from the 99.8% of the other sportsmen who participate in our sport faithfully playing by the rules. Instead, all hunters must now endure the public backlash because someone, acting entirely within their legal rights to do so, chose not to act in a reasonable manner by letting Sarah the bear live so her life could be further studied.
©2010 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.