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Opinion: Public enemy No. 1, the black bear cub?

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | April 21, 2021 1:25 PM

I figured wolves would be squarely in the sights of the Republican-controlled state legislature this year — and they were. If everything holds true, hunters will be able to spotlight wolves at night on private lands, use snares to trap them and even use bait.

None of these ideas are great in my view. Spotlighting, even if it’s legal on private lands, leads to poaching of everything but wolves and snares kill a lot of non-targeted game.

Bait will draw in bears. I can already see myself writing the headline “Grizzly bear mauls wolf trapper” in big bold letters.

For those of you that think I’m an anti-trapper you would be mistaken. I spent the better part of my youth trapping. But some of these new laws don’t make sense.

The thing that really strikes me about this session is the war not on wolves, but on black bears, namely black bear cubs.

That’s right, the menace of all menaces, the black bear cub.

The state legislature, in all its wisdom last week, passed a bill that will allow the spring hunting of black bears with hounds.

Because we all know that hounds can be trained to hunt only male black bears and not female black bears with cubs, or grizzly bears.

I speak this from experience. I grew up with a hound hunter. We hunted raccoons. The good ones, on a good night, ran raccoons. On a bad night they tangle up with a skunk, or run deer into the next county.

So of course I jest when I say that hounds can be trained to hunt male black bears. Of course they can’t.

But now we may soon be able to run hounds at will until June 15 for bears, pending the governor’s signature.

In grizzly country, the tide could easily turn on the hunter.

Just ask Bob Brown, the former state legislator and Secretary of State. He was out walking his dog west of Whitefish when the pooch found a griz. The grizzly chased the dog back to Bob and then chased Bob right up a tree.

Of course, hunters will be well armed, one would think.

So when they presumably shoot the griz in “self-defense” there will be a strong likelihood of one less grizzly in the woods, too. Perhaps some orphan cubs to boot.

Of course, grizzlies often get a few licks in before death.

I hear the puncture and scratch wounds they leave behind are some of the most painful on Earth.

Something tells me a few hunters are about to find out.

Chris Peterson is the editor of the Hungry Horse News.