To the Editor:
Thank you for Holly Kays’ excellent article covering the recent shooting of a bear in Maggie Valley, leaving behind three orphaned cubs.
This was a needless tragedy, and I fear that others may feel emboldened to take things into their own hands and kill bears that they consider to be problematic instead of taking the proper steps to prevent such problems.
Bears are intelligent wild animals. They live to eat, and they won’t pass up a free meal if people provide one. Such meals come in the form of garbage, birdfeeders (including suet and hummingbird feeders), grills, pet food, etc.
The man in this story had a birdfeeder that had brought the bear onto his porch twice during the night before he killed her. If he had only removed the feeder, it may have ended right there, but he didn’t. That is beyond irresponsible. It is reckless and selfish.
He is not the only one — I’ve heard plenty of other people say something to the effect that “I love my birds, so don’t tell me to put away my birdfeeder.” One couple that disregarded such advice ended up with the bear invading their house on two separate occasions, doing considerable damage to the kitchen. Had they been home, they might have shot the bear like the man in this story did. So whose fault is it?
I’m sorry that this man won’t be prosecuted, as he deliberately left a bear attractant out in a potentially dangerous situation.
A bear is just going to be a bear. As our members tell many people, it is up to us humans to change our behavior in order to peacefully coexist with the bears and other wild animals with whom we share our mountains. I hope people will follow the advice included in Holly’s article in order to prevent similar problems and tragedies in the future.
Chairwoman of the B.E.A.R. (Bear Education and Resources) Task Force