Outrage grows over killing of a mother bear and her cubs even as federal government moves to make such action legal
There isn’t sufficient outrage in the world to cover the depravity of the father and son who were charged with breaking Alaska state law in mid-April when they killed a mother bear and her shrieking cubs on Esther Island in Prince William Sound. The details of their wanton crime, revealed just this week in an Alaska State Troopers dispatch, are chilling. They skied to a remote den, where they killed a mother bear in front of her cubs, and then killed the cubs. Then, discovering an Alaska Department of Fish and Game collar on the bear, they took steps to cover up their illegal action. They removed the collar, butchered the bear, and tossed the cub carcasses.
According to the charges, they even returned to the site two days later to remove all signs and evidence of their deed. The father provided false documentation and accounts concerning the killing of the bear when he appeared at a state wildlife office several weeks later.
What the two didn’t know was that a motion-controlled video camera placed at the site by ADFG and the US Forest Service, as part of a study of bear populations in Prince William Sound, had documented their misconduct from start to bloody finish.
Alaskan authorities, to their credit, have charged the pair with unlawful take of a female bear with cubs, unlawful take of bear cubs, and possession and transportation of illegally taken game. However, these are mere misdemeanor charges, so it’s good to know that the father has also been charged with tampering with physical evidence – a felony – and for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, as well as unsworn falsification.
Whenever trophy hunters display such reckless disregard for law and animal life, the organizations that promote trophy hunting, and the elected officials who support their agenda, eventually move to condemn the scofflaw. I hope that they will do so now. But it’s not that simple this time around, because many of these same parties are working to make this sort of killing legal in Alaska.
That’s right. The US Department of the Interior under Secretary Ryan Zinke has been pushing to overturn a 2015 rule that prohibited “taking any black bear, including cubs and sows with cubs, with artificial light at den sites, harvesting brown bears over bait, taking wolves and coyotes (including pups) during the denning season (between May 1 and August 9), taking swimming caribou, taking caribou from motorboats under power, taking black bears over bait; and using dogs to hunt black bears” on National Park Service Preserve lands in Alaska.
It’s worth noting that a recent poll demonstrated that Alaskans by a strong majority oppose such methods and don’t want to see them condoned or encouraged in their state.
There used to be a code of ethics within the North American hunting community, grounded in the notion of fair chase. But these days, it seems, all we’re seeing is a stampede to the bottom rung of moral sensibility.