Not sure if this is a rant or not, maybe just an opinion. Oh hell, let's make it a rant.
Headline: Tulsa World: Black-bear season ends quickly. The article tells us that 31 bears, some weighing as much as 600 pounds, were killed in southeast Oklahoma in one day. The article goes on to say that most were killed by crossbow rather than the compound bow. No guns are allowed but the hunters do have permission to bait the animals. Come on in bear. Smell that? Good stuff. A little closer now. THUNK!
I have a simple question. Why do we need to kill bears in Oklahoma? Have the black beasts been attacking toddlers in their yards? No. There are no reports of OK bears attacking people where they live, at least that I know of. At a camp, in the woods, with food around? Yes, there was an incident a year or two ago where a bear came into a camp but no people were harmed. Yes, bears do raid bird feeders and are quite happy to clean up any dog food left outside, but what do you expect when you choose to share the same woods where bears live?
Are OK bears killing livestock and depriving the farmer of a living? No. Well, unless you count the one time during 18 year of record keeping where a bear took out a pig. I wouldn't think that predation was that big of a problem
So who decided that our bear population was so out of control, that we need to eliminate 31 of them every year?
Have you ever seen a black bear in Oklahoma? I haven't and I spend a considerable amount of time in the outdoors with my camera. I'd love to see a bear! What a thrill that would be.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against all forms of hunting. I'm not a PETA member. I've hunted myself, many times; deer, quail, pheasant but my justification was this; the game was plentiful, it ended up on the dinner table (I'm told bear tastes terrible), and I enjoyed the camaraderie, the challenge, and a few sips of bourbon before that meal of fresh venison was served up. The only part I didn't like was pulling the trigger, the killing part. That's why I gave it up. An excellent book on this subject is titled Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt, by Ted Kerasote.
No, my gut feeling on bear hunting in OK is not that we have too many bears, but that the politicians in this state, looking for that good-ol-boys vote, pushed for a bear hunting season so their constituents could feel that satisfying rush of adrenalin, that pulsating testosterone thrill, that dominance of man over animal feeling, at the moment they see that magnificent creature fall and die at their feet.
"They were all beautiful bears" said a manager of the Department of Oklahoma Wildlife after the recent hunt.
I suppose they were. Most of us will never know. One thing's for sure. They're damn sure not beautiful now.