Bear Baiting is Like Shooting Bears at Zoo and Should be Illegal

Letters to the Editor / Anchorage Daily News / June 19, 2004

Alaska is one of the last states where bear baiting is legal. Each year trophy hunters habituate thousands of bears to a diet of dog food, old pastries, bacon grease and other goodies, then shoot about 650 of them.

Polling indicates most Alaskans consider bear baiting as unsporting. It is the equivalent of shooting fed bears at the zoo. It also teaches bears to seek out human-related foods, which most people believe is undesirable. In November, voters will decide whether or not to make bear baiting illegal.

Bear baiter and Board of Game member Pete Buist said in a letter to the editor on June 10 that if there was a ban on bear baiting, Frank Bettine could face a year in jail for having used bait to rescue an orphaned brown bear cub. That would never happen. Mr. Bettine was working closely with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in attempting to catch the cub before it starved to death. Even if he had technically broken the law (public trapping of brown bears is currently illegal), who in their right mind would press charges?

If there is a concern, it is with the Board of Game. In March, it approved a regulation to allow the killing of "at least a thousand bears" over bait.

-- Dr. Paul Joslin, Wildlife Director, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Anchorage

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