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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Game and Fish guns down another black bear

EDITORIAL
Once again we have to question the actions of Arizona Game and Fish personnel who shot and killed a 200-300-pound black bear after a bear attacked a Gilbert woman while she was walking her dog in Pinetop Tuesday.

According to a story in the June 30 Arizona Republic, the circumstances of the attack are still somewhat murky, but what happened shortly thereafter is crystal clear - "...federal wildlife personnel used tracking dogs that eventually found a bear several hundred yards away in a tree" and shot and killed it immediately.  Game and Fish officials say they are now conducting a forensic investigation to be sure they got the right bear.

Wait a minute - let's be very clear on this point: officials are not even positive the bear they found in the tree was the one who attacked the woman.  In a press release, AZGFD said, "Although highly unlikely, if the forensic necropsy determines that the bear was not the one responsible, tracking efforts will begin immediately to find the right bear."  So why not tranquilize the bear and run the tests to be positive?

We have to remember whose turf we are treading on when we recreate in the forest.  And while we realize that bears are not people and are not protected by the Constitution, the principle of innocent until proven guilty would have been fairly easy to follow in this case.

Too often in the past, trigger-happy officials have shot and killed bears and other wildlife without thinking first.  It's time for Game and Fish to reevaluate any policies and procedures that allow this kind of tragedy to occur.

Why should an agency that is charged with protecting wildlife be allowed to destroy it without first taking all precautions to make sure such action is necessary?

By the way, the injured woman is in serious but stable condition. 

Click on news.azcentral.com to read the Republic story. 

2 comments:

RD Jr said...

"Trigger-happy officials”? What an unprofessional editorial, and I thought you were better than this. It is easy to "arm chair quarterback" situations after the fact from the comfort of your desk as so many do when ever law enforcement (Yes G&F IS Law Enforcement) is involved in a shooting. This BEAR was VERY aggressive, it was in the middle of a country club in a dumpster, and attacked not once, but went back for more. Have some faith in public safety and G&F, they used tracking dogs, did their job well and removed a threat. Many things are evaluated at a scene such as this with public safety being a priority, and the final decision was not decided lightly. Public Safety then always follow-up forensically to verify their information & evidence, AND also to make sure the animal was not diseased. The final result: they all did their jobs well, the RIGHT bear was caught and destroyed as it should have been before someone else was hurt or killed, and life goes on. (http://www.azcentral.com/community/gilbert/articles/2011/07/01/20110701bear-mauled-woman-confirmed-abrk.html)
Is this sad? Yes. Is this necessary when an animal, especially one as dangerous as a bear can be, becomes so humanized that it no longer fears and THEN attacks without provocation and multiple times? Yes! This does not happen that often, was handled quickly, efficiently, and professionally. (I am not sure how you label G&F as "trigger-happy" as they do a fine job with the resources they have)
I also know that if this bear had been allowed to go about its business and another attack occurred, the same ones that complain about what was done would be complaining that this action had NOT been taken. In public safety, it’s a no win with some public as no matter what is done, it is criticized and labeled as the “Wrong actions”.
I am VERY disappointed in your negative comments and would expect this in the Round-up, but I had thought you were above this.

Noble said...

If there is any good news in this story, it is that DNA test proved positive that the bear the shot was, indeed, the culprit.

The point of the story still stands.