Undercover video captured “bear baying,” a practice so cruel that animal advocates thought it had been outlawed since the 1800’s. Hunters in rural South Carolina are popularizing the activity.
Bear baying or “bear baiting” is the act of chaining a defenseless bear to a stake while a pack of dogs are released to attack the animal.
Bears are either declawed or have their claws filed down and are defanged or have their teeth pulled. Activists compare the “staged fights” to those in the Roman Colosseum.
The Associated Press released news about the resurgence of bear baying with undercover video shot at four separate events by the Humane Society of the United States. HSUS is using that video to pressure South Carolina’s Attorney General, Henry McMaster to outlaw the practice.
South Carolina is the only state that allows bear baying and animal fighting when it is used as a method of dog training. Hunters in the state say the practice helps prepare their dogs about what to do if they encounter a bear during hunting season.
But the videos filmed by HSUS show that more than training is going on at these events. Hunters have turned bear baying into a weekend sport with cash prizes and trophies. Events are attended by hundreds of spectators and the bear attacks go on relentlessly for hours.
What Happens At Modern Day Bear Baying Spectacles
The HSUS video shows an adult black bear tethered to a short chain which is attached to a wooden fence. The animal is enclosed in a chain linked pen.
A team of 3 hunting dogs are released into the pen where they lunge, swat, show teeth and sometimes bite the defenseless bear.
The goal is to make the bear stand up on its hind legs and the team that makes this happen in the shortest amount of time, wins the contest.
Hunters want a bear to stand upright because it makes the animal easier to shoot and kill when they are encountered in the wild.
However the bears used in the contest are not wild.
They are part of a small group of animals that came as part of a limited one time permit process in 2005 where 38 bears were released to private owners as pets or for small zoos.
These bears also came with an exception to the law that allowed them to be used in bear baying events, as long as there was no “repeated contact” between the animals.
The HSUS video shows clear violations to that clause as the bear suffers from bites and gashes in her effort to escape the teams of dogs. The events filmed went on for 4 hours while nearly 100 teams of hounds attacked the bear.
HSUS representatives expressed concern over the “psychological trauma” this imposed on the bear.
And to make matters even more depressing, the same kept showing up at each bear baying spectacle filmed by HSUS. Records show that her name is Mandy.
The HSUS blog said, “The bear…may endure this treatment every weekend throughout much of the year.”
Michael Markarian of HSUS said, “At least eight other animals are used for baying in the three counties where bear hunting is permitted.”
Attorney General McMaster issued a statement saying “he views the practice as illegal under the state’s animal cruelty law.” But State Rep. David Hiott of Pickens County, where bear baying is legal said, “It’s unlikely the Legislature will revisit a ban on bear baying.”
HSUS doesn’t plan on giving up. If they are unable to change the minds of lawmakers, the group plans to address the problem with wildlife managers. They hope to revoke all of the captive bear permits that were issued in 2005.
Click Here to sign the petition to stop bear baying in South Carolina and to watch the undercover video from HSUS.
Creative Commons - Alan Vernon Black Bear