When Alaskan Congressmen Attack

Rep. Dan Young (R-Alaska) lost his temper during a debate with Rep. Jim Moran (D-Virginia) over a bill that Moran introduced that would have banned the baiting of bears on federal lands.

Young said to Moran,

I wish I had my native people in here right no. You’d walk out of here with no head on.

Young has a history with Moran — back in 1998 during debate over a bill that woudl have restricted the kinds of trapst that could be used on federal lands, Young made an obscene hand gesture at Moran.

An animal rights activist who posted an account of thi latest exchange to an animal rights mailing list noted,

If an animal rights activist said what Young said, she’d be charged with making a “terrorist threat.”

Of course your average animal rights activist wouldn’t be speaking on the floor of the House as a member of that body where she would have a great deal of legal protection thanks to the Speech & Debate Clause. But the observation is spot on — this sort of behavior would not be tolerated if it came from Ingrid Newkirk, and it shouldn’t be tolerated from Young either.

Moran later withdrew his bill when it became apparent it would not make it out of committee.


Lawmakers tussle over bear baiting. TheDenverChannel.Com, June 13, 2003.

Toward a more polite Don Young. The Juneau Empire, July 22, 1999.

Congressman Pulls Bill Restricting Bear Hunting. Robert B. Bluey, CNSNews, July 11, 2003.

Alaskan congressman envisions Moran ‘with no head on’. Associated Press, June 13, 2003.

New Jersey Takes Preliminary Steps Toward Bear Hunt

The New Jersey Fish and Game Council this month approved a six-day bear hunt season for December 2003 to manage the bear population in the state.

What would be New Jersey’s first bear hunt since 1970 was approved in a 10-1 vote by the council> Now the proposed hunt will be the subject of public hearings before a final decision is made in September.

Officials in New Jersey are obviously worried about the killing last year of a 5-month old infant by a black bear in New York. Although there has never been a similar killing in New Jersey, complaints about black bears increased to 1,412 in 2002, up from only 1,096 in 2001. In addition, The New York Times reports that in the last two years 59 bears have been killed by animal control officers because they posed an immediate threat to people or property.

New Jersey Fish and Game Council member Jane Morton Galetto explained that she voted for the hunt because,

It’s just a matter of time before a child or an adult is killed here, and people start to say they want to see every bear wiped off the face of New Jersey.

In 2000 a similar hunt was authorized to kill 175 bears, but was withdrawn after lobbying from cities and animal rights organizations. Instead, the state spent $1 million educating people on how to avoid bears. Those groups also plan to lobby hard to prevent the December bear hunt from taking place.

The Daily Record News (NJ) quoted Angie Metler of the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance as noting that New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey lobbied against the 2000 hunt adding, “we intend to hold McGreevey to his promise to protect the bears.”

The Humane Society of the United States’ Barbara Dyer told The New York Times,

We see this as really a call for a trophy hunt. We stopped the hunt before, and we pledge to stop it again.

New Jersey environmental commissioner Bradley M. Campbell, who would likely have authority over any bear hunt, said that additional study might be needed on exactly how many bears there are in New Jersey before he would be prepared to go ahead with a hunt.


State council authorizes black bear hunt. Rob Jennings, Daily Record (New Jersey), March 8, 2003.

Bear hunt is proposed in New Jersey. Robert Hanley, The New York Time, March 8, 2003.

Will Black Bear Hunting Resume Under New Maryland Governor?

One of the results of Republican Robert Ehrlich’s victory in the Maryland Governor’s race this month may be a return of bear hunting in that state.

In the mid-1950s the number of black bears in Maryland had dropped to an estimated 12 and bear hunting was banned. The population of black bears has recovered to about somewhere between 266 and 437 bears, and hunters and wildlife management officials have pressed for a return to a black bear trophy hunting season to keep the number of bears manageable and reduce human/bear contacts.

Outgoing Democratic Governor Paris Glendenning was openly hostile to hunting issues, but during the election Ehrlich said that he would like sign a bill creating a limited black bear hunting season.

Animal rights groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Protection Institute are already urging their members to contact Maryland officials to oppose any renewal of a bear hunting season as well as to coordinate a campaign against any such renewal.


Under Ehrlich’s leadership, Maryland certain to change course. Larry Evans, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), November 22, 2002.

Draft Black Bear Task Force (BBTF) Report and Recommendations to The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) November 4, 2002.

Ah, To Be a Bear in Bulgaria

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Matthew Brunwasser wrote an interesting article a few days ago about efforts to help dancing bears in Bulgaria. Dancing bears are illegal in Bulgaria, but the government does not strictly enforce the ban.

Enter Four Paws, a European animal organization that in November 2000 built a square-kilometer park in Belitsa, Bulgaria, for the bears. It buys bears from entertainers for about $5,000 per bear and retires them to the park.

All of which has some in Belitsa wondering about the priorities of European donors. Each bear eats about $200/month in food, whereas the per capita monthly income of Belitsa residents is a mere $120/month.

Belitsa resident Kostadin Trichov told Brunwasser, “There’s a saying in town: ‘There’s nothing better than to be a bear in Belitsa.'”

Bulgarian filmmaker Assen Valdimirov has produced a documentary about the park called “Of Bears and Men” and complained to Brunwasser,

The people in town are shocked, all of Bulgaria is shocked. It’s ridiculous to spend such money for six bears here. They are more horrified by the conditions of the animals than the people.

For his part, Four Paws’ Josef Pfabigan says that the poverty in Belitsa is not his problem.

It’s not my business to think about money. My business is a project for animal protection. Bears are the point. For the people in the region it’s about business.

According to Brunwasser, the bear park has changed attitudes in Bulgaria about bear dancing, but Bulgarians may be getting a mixed message. He reports that one couple took the $5,000 they received from selling their bear and promptly bought a monkey to use for street busking.


Dancing bears get help, but not Bulgaria’s poor. Matthew Brunwasser, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 3, 2002.

Debate Over Black Bear Hunt Heats Up in New Jersey

Hunting black bears in New Jersey is illegal, but growing estimates of the number of black bears in the state combined with high profile bear incidents is driving debate in that state over whether it is time for a limited bear hunt in the state.

In the early 1980s, there were less than 100 bears in New Jersey. Nobody knows how many bears are in the state today, but estimates range anywhere from 1,400 to 1,900 bears.

Although it is illegal to hunt bears, plenty of them are still killed by human beings. In 2001, for example, 52 were killed in automobile accidents, 20 were killed by wildlife officials (usually because the bears are aggressive), and four were killed by police and property owners.

In March, for example, police shot a bear that was attempting to enter a home. Later in March, a bear attacked a dog.

In 2000, the increasing frequency of human-bear encounters led for calls to a limited hunt, but that never materialized in the legislature. But estimates that the bear population might be as high as 1,900 has formerly anti-hunt legislators rethinking their position.

Assemblyman Christopher Bateman, for example, sponsored legislation to ensure a five-year moratorium on bear hunting in New Jersey. Now, however, he’s wondering if a limited hunt might not be for the best. “Maybe we need a limited hunt,” Bateman told the Associated Press. “The last thing we need is someone getting hurt by a bear.”

Animal rights activists and environmentalists claim that the number of black bears are being intentionally exaggerated to provide political cover for renewing a hunt, but wildlife officials note that a number of factors indicate that the bear population is increasing rapidly.

Since bears have no natural predator other than humans, it is hardly novel to suggest that the bear population might be expanding very quickly in the absence of any predation.


Rise in black bear population rekindles call for hunt. The Associated press, March 23, 2002.

Memo to the Nuge: think before you speak

It seems Ted Nugent
recently became angered at Ontario, Canada, for canceling its spring bear
hunt. Nugent quickly proclaimed he and his fans were boycotting tourism
to Canada until Ontario lifts its ban. The only problem is a couple days
later Nugent confirmed he would be traveling to Canada in March to speak
at Canada’s Music Week. Announcing a boycott and then confirming you’re
going to break it a couple days later is the sort of bone headed move
one would expect from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Besides, the boycott
itself seems like an almost certain failure. Living only a few miles from
the Nuge here in Michigan, I can certainly attest to his popularity in
this part of the country, and he does get a lot of support for his pro-gun
and anti-animal rights message, but does Nugent really think he can get
his fans to boycott visiting Canada? This would be like telling people
to simply stop visiting Indiana or Ohio if those states enacted a ban
on hunting — it is just not going to happen. To make boycotts like that
even begin to be effective requires convincing large corporations and
others to take convention and other business elsewhere.

The most likely result
of Nugent’s “boycott” will be to strengthen the resolve of the opponents
of the bear hunt in Ontario who will certainly point to yet more meddling
in their affairs by their neighbors to the south.

There are better
approaches to getting the bear hunt resumed than an ineffective impromptu
boycott that even its chief organizer can’t abide.


Rocker won’t abide own boycott. Betsy Powell, Toronto Star, January 1999.