Target: Humane Society President Jeffrey J. Arciniaco
Goal: Applaud efforts to protect bears and people by using non-lethal bear deterrents.
In an effort to keep bear encounters from resulting in dead bears, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) issued non-lethal bear hazing kits to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the organization responsible for training law enforcement agencies on how to safely deal with black bear encounters. Without bear hazing kits, the animals are often killed for human protection when they are found in neighborhoods in search of food. The hazing kits—given free of charge by the HSUS—offer an alternative that could save countless lives.
Human development in areas of Florida formerly inhabited by native black bears has driven the animals to smaller and smaller habitats, threatening their food and population. To make matters worse, neighborhoods with large black bear populations nearby do not enforce bear-proof garbage cans and residents are not trained to deal with bear encounters or educated about ways to deter the threatened animals.
These and other factors have led to an increase in bear attacks in recent years and uproar from Florida citizens demanding an end to the attacks. Sadly, the response from law enforcement regularly ends with dead black bears that are guilty only of wandering into residential areas in search of food left out by oblivious humans.
Thanks to the generosity of the HSUS, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission now has another tool to give law enforcement. The hazing kits contain 10 bean bag ammunition rounds and a can of pepper spray designed specifically to deter bears. With proper training, the kits can effectively protect both humans and bears.
Applaud the HSUS’ efforts to keep black bears safe from unnecessary force while teaching those who serve and protect to respect the lives of animals that already face too many human dangers.
Dear Mr. Arciniaco,
Florida’s increased bear attacks are a direct result of human over-development, and violent reactions to the increased regularity of human-bear interactions are both unnecessary and ineffective. There are many non-lethal solutions, such as bear-proof garbage cans and safety training.
The residents of neighborhoods affected by bear interactions are not the only ones whose decisions could mean life or death for themselves and the bears, however. Law enforcement officers sent to protect citizens may receive training to best protect humans, but the officers are not typically given non-lethal alternatives to handling the situation.
Thanks to the bear hazing kits donated by the HSUS, officers can now simply deter the bears, whose main objective surely is not to harm humans, but to acquire food. I applaud the HSUS for its generous donation of bear hazing kits to deter rather than kill black bears.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Harlan Kredit via Wikimedia Commons