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Careless human activity leads to killing of bears

September 22, 2004

During this past week a man was roughed up by a California black bear

in Chilao Campground in the Angeles National Forest. Reportedly the

unnamed man left food in his ice chest unattended in his campsite as

he retired for the evening. As one might expect, a bear sniffed out

the smell and went about the business of what he does best for a

living -- eating.

The man, who was camping with his wife and two daughters, awakened

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and as he ushered his family to their vehicle, threw a hatchet at the

bear, which provoked him, causing the bear to attack. The man was

mildly injured and escaped.

According to Martin Wall of the California Department of Fish and

Game, the bear was to be captured or killed for being aggressive.

Bull. Toss a hatchet at me and I might attack. There are signs at all

Chilao Campgrounds telling how to stow your food and that this is

"Bear Country."

I feel for the bear who was tracked down and destroyed because we

invaded his home. Reports are that Fish and Game shot the wrong bear

and two others on their seek and destroy mission. I have camped with

the bears of Chilao several times and taken many nature moments with

Scouts and my family to observe and be a witness to the awesome

strength of these magnificent animals.

In the national park system, you may be fined for improper food

storage, but not so in the national forest or other parks in

California. I propose that some legislative petition give authority

to our rangers to impose fines upon those not willing to protect our

wildlife by proper food use. We are coming to them, it's not like

they are coming to our homes and ripping the door off your

refrigerator and roughing up the family for fun.

The underlying issue of my comments are that someone from "Fish

and Game" chose to destroy all the bears in Chilao for the innocent

deeds of a single physical encounter. What a call. We go into their

homes and if they misbehave, just kill them.

Encounters with bears are many as the food supply runs low and

they go looking outside their natural habitat. However, when they

encounter campers, they are in their habitat. According to Kathy

Peterson, assistant supervisor of the Angeles National Forest, there

has not been a bear attack for more than a decade.

From the accounts of the recent Chilao attack, it would not be on

record either if the camper would have observed a few rules of

etiquette in the wild, read the signs and observed a few basic rules,

like don't provoke a 300-pound bear by tossing a hatchet at him.

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