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Why Should we Protect the Bears? & My Personal Stance on Hunting

  • Blog Post by: T.R. Michels
  • June 23, 2011 - 1:21 PM

After yesterday's blog - one person e-mailed me and complained about the way I handled the poem about hunters not killing bears, about my reference to the Bible, and about man’s dismal record when it come to wildlife management. Following is my response to their e-mail:

 

Sir,

Please realize that the poem would have been offensive to hunters, and in order to achieve what I want to achieve, which is to protect the radio-collared bears, we need the hunters sympathetic to our cause. We need the hunters, we do not want to alienate them. Since many of them feel strongly about their right to hunt, and because some hunters can be very touchy and protective of their rights, I would rather not step even lightly on their toes. Plus, the author of the poem understood my reasoning completely, and decided to remove the poem, because it made sense to them to do so. It takes a very perceptive and wise person to do something like that, in addition they have to check their ego at the door.

As to the reference to "the dominion over the animals" in the Genesis chapter of the Bible - I am a Bible scholar, and the translation of the Aramaic term "dominion" means that we can do with animals as we please, be it for food, or for trophy. But, after over 35 years of hunting, I can honestly say that less than 5% of the hunters I meet, hunt only for a trophy, they all eat what they kill. And in some cases, they hunt in order to keep the animals in balance with the carrying capacity of the habitat, so that the animals do not destroy the very meat or vegetation they need to survive.

The Importance of Wildlife Management

Because man has, in the past, been a poor steward of the animals the land and plants, we changed the dynamics of the male to female ratio of many species, the predator/prey balance in many ecosystems, and the number of animals in relation to the carrying capacity of the habitat in many ecosystems. But, just because we were poor stewards of the habitat and animals in the past, does it mean we should continue being poor stewards now, by not interfering in what is happening, in order to keep all of those relationships and balances in proper alignment? I say no.

Now that we have realized that what we did in the past was wrong (in many cases), and because our understanding of conservation is continually growing, what we need to do is try, to the best of our ability to: 1. use methods to keep the animal numbers at or below the carrying capacity of the land. 2. use methods to balance the predator/prey relationship in each ecosystem, 3. use methods to balance the male to female sex ratio of each species in each ecosystem, 4. use methods to achieve the correct age structure of each sex, of each species, so that breeding occurs in the right age groups, at the appropriate time of the year for maximum survival of the young animals. And how do we do that? Through habitat conservation and improvement, and through wildlife management.

Since, in most cases wildlife management involves reducing the numbers of one or the other of the sexes, or both sexes from the ecosystem, and because hunting is the most cost effective and efficient method of reducing animal numbers, while increasing revenue for wildlife management - hunting has become a very important and needed tool in wildlife management, along with captive breeding programs, stocking, translocation and re-introduction of animals to increase populations where needed.

My Personal Stance on Hunting

In closing, as the founder and the and only officer/employee of the Protect Minnesota’s Research Bears campaign, along with my Facebook Protect Minnesota’s Research Bears page co-Administrator and general handy-woman Sarah Curtis (who is indispensable), I feel I have to clear a few thing up, by stating exactly who and what I am. I am a "born again" Christian, who believes that humans do have the responsibility, as Christians, to responsibly manage both the habitat/ecosystem and the animals that live in those habitats.

I have been a hunter for 50 years. I am also a hunting consultant and outfitter and guide, who sells hunts for, and hunts, black bears; along with waterfowl, wild turkey, deer, elk, upland birds and small game animals. I am very pro-hunting, because I realize that hunting is needed to help maintain and contain game animals within the proper male to female and age group ratios, in balance within the carrying capacity of the land, and within the human social acceptance of he area. I am also a black bear researcher, who realizes the importance of the Ely research bears, and the loss of data that results every time one of the bears is killed by a hunter. Being a hunter is one of the reasons why Dr. Lynn Rogers is glad I have joined him in his efforts to protect the bears; because I can reach out to my fellow hunters.

I also realize that if I want to be successful in my attempts to protect the Ely, MN area research bears from hunting, that I need both the cooperation and backing of Minnesota hunters, if I want to convince the legislature to pass a bill to protect the bears. I will do nothing to alienate hunters, or how they feel about me, and those who support my efforts. Therefore, I will not allow any anti-hunting or hunting negative comments on the Protect Minnesota’s Research Bears Facebook page.

I will do everything I can to gain the support and backing of hunters around the world, about the importance of bear research and how it can help increase bear populations and the age structure of the bears (so that there may be more hunting opportunities for larger/older bears), and improve the habitat for other animals (such as deer and grouse), by educating hunters about the importance of bear research on bear populations, the same way I try to educate non-hunters or anti-hunters about the benefits of hunting on game populations and the habitat.

God bless,

T.R.

 

 

 

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