Bears Beware subject = Environmental Issues title = Bears Beware In our world today many animals and plants are loosing their fight against human intervention in their once well-balanced ecosystem. We are all aware of the extinction of the dinosaurs and the dodo birds, however most people do not realize that annually thousands of species of our flora and fauna are now becoming extinct. This on going trend is increasingly threatening our bio diversity and global ecology. To give a specific example of animal depletion I will focus on Canadian bears. The following factors are responsible for their decline. Hunting, loss of habitat, and just plain apathy on part of the public to preserve the bio diversity of our land. During 1994/95, a total of 19,430 bear hunting licenses were issued to both residential and non-residential people.
There were 3,790 so-called legal bear kills in BC alone. It is estimated that out of every one legally killed bear be it grizzly or black two are killed illegally by poachers primarily just for their paws, head, gall bladder, and reproductive organs. These body parts are considered by Orientals to increase strength and rejuvenate male potency. Given these facts 11,190 bears were killed last year. Biologist estimate that to keep the bear population at a balanced figure only 4% should be allowed to be harvested annually. The current annual harvest rate it is more like 8-12%. In my opinion this is really outrageous.
We are watching it in front of our eyes and little is being done to prevent it. We have already witnessed the rhinos, African elephants and the Siberian tiger go through the same process and now they are on the brink of extinction. Legal hunting and poaching are similar in the sense that they both result in the slaughter of animals be it bears or any creature. Having depleted the animals in their own countries, the rich flock here in the hundreds to go on big game hunting expeditions and kill; anywhere from one to who knows how many bears. I really don’t understand what is going on with our government to allow this to happen.
Soon grizzlies will be deemed endangered and when this happens the price for their head will skyrocket and encourage further poaching. The typical responses heard from hunters are: “We are the top of the food chain”; “That’s why they are here, to satisfy man”, “it don’t hurt their numbers”, “Its just a bear”. Their ignorant attitude is very short sighted and self-indulgent. In my opinion if we want these magnificent creatures to be here for us, our children and their children we should not allow foreign game hunters to come here and slaughter any animals. There should be imposed a greater penalty for poachers.
Fewer and much more expensive hunting licenses would help to reduce the killing of the big game. There should be an increase in wildlife officials. While hunting is a major factor in the decrease of bears, loss of habitat is even a greater issue. This is due primarily to the escalating population and civilization’s increasing encroachment. An example of this is clear cut logging and the building of roads through these animals’ habitats.
A parallel to this encroachment into wilderness is if someone were to go through your house everyday. I personally couldn’t cope with this. Biologists keep trying to figure the dynamics of depleting animal population only to discover that the major factor is man. My reaction to this is that the more concerned individuals must lobby the government to take a stand and say “enough” to logging companies and land developers. Why are people like this today? They see something wrong happening and they don’t react to it unless it directly involves them.
Well here is reality. The bears and other wildlife are following the footsteps of the once countless bison that roamed the prairies. While the majority of society are either unaware or don’t care. At present, the fate of our wild creatures lies in the hand of small organizations like ‘Bear Watch’ and ‘Western Wildlife Committee’ who are trying to stop the destruction. They are putting little dents into the hunting businesses and logging companies.
But this is not enough. Society waits until the last minute to react but its usually too late. It is just plain apathy on the part of man today to preserve the bio diversity of our land. It is not bears per say that I particularly have a passion to save. For the First Nations people the bear is a totem of strength, endurance and perseverance. In my opinion it is time humanity in general emulate their qualities.
Each must overcome its apathy and take a stand wherever he or she feels compelled to preserve our natural heritage. Be it bears, butterflies, whales or whooping cranes, we should all be doing what we can. Whatever our personal interests we should act in unison. Those with a passion to clean up the environment should rally to stop the polluting practices of mining and logging companies who are destroying our streams and ecosystems. Others can focus on protecting the ozone layer or reducing acid rain. If all of us worked together we would immensely contribute to the healing of the planet, preserve the bio diversity and prevent the natural heritage of our unborn children of the future trembling to be born.