Yesterday a court ruled that for the first time since 1999, Ontarian hunters will be able to hunt bears this Spring. The Spring Bear Hunt is coming back. Bears better watch out. Starting tomorrow. Thursday, May 1st, 2014. Numerous City Councils support the program. Our elected officials are endorsing the murder of innocent bears.
In April of 2012, I came across a bear myself. I was walking home from my friend's house, and I walked through the catwalk on Fields Square, into the forest around Grove Crescent. I heard the weirdest noise. It was a growl. Then, it appeared. A bear. A black bear. It was gorgeous. A true gift from nature. I walked towards it, ignoring the advice of countless people to "slowly back away from the bear." Yeah, no, I'm Matt Kot, I don't back away from anything. The bear looked at me. He and I were about ten meters away from each other. I could see his face so clearly. My heart melted. I seen his face for a total of three or four seconds.
He ran. Down the path, towards the Grove Crescent townhouse complex, where I could hear a bunch of the neighborhood kids playing outside. I knew that if the bear revealed itself to the children, there would be a panic. Luckily, the bear decided to go behind the townhouses, running along through the backyards. Nobody knew about the bear until I showed them pictures.
I ran along with the bear, knowing that the creatures could potentially be dangerous. I guessed that what I was following was a cub. But I sensed that his (or her) mother (or father) was nearby. I jumped over one big pile of bear poop, and seen that the bear entered the churchyard right near the townhouse complex. I prayed that no kids would see the bear. The kids liked to play in the churchyard all the time, it was a wide, open space. Perfect for a meeting area. But today, the bear was there, running into the gulley at the back of the churchyard. I continued following it.
And then, I heard a growl. Coming from a completely different direction from the cub's location. The growl was deeper than the cub's growl. There was a mama (or papa) bear in the forest. My heart sank. I heard small trees snapping. I heard the bears both running so fast, I would never be able to keep up with them. I realized, at that very moment, that bears are harmless. I watched the cub run towards it's parent, disappearing deeper into the bush.
I elected to not follow them. I had a story to share. I walked to the nearest wifi hotspot, sent pictures of the bear to my supervisor at my then-workplace, a local news organization, and within an hour, my story was up. Along with a reminder to stay away from bears.
A reminder that I failed to heed. I had decided to get a first-hand experience with a bear. They're not as scary as you might think. They're genuinely harmless animals. Yes, they reveal themselves in your neighborhood sometimes to eat your garbage. But that is because we humans are cutting down their forests, depriving them of the food they need to survive. The bear 'problem' is our fault. We humans have made the bears a 'problem.' And they will be more of a problem when tomorrow morning, hunters start shooting them.
Bears aren't 100% harmless at all times. Yes, they are perfectly capable of ripping humans apart and devouring them. Even a cub can eat a human. When we start threatening them with guns, shooting them, the bears ain't stupid, they'll panic. They'll run. They will see the humans as enemies. As their killers. Bears will come to hate the human race. Bears will become more aggressive, they will do anything to protect themselves and their cubs from murder. I know what bears are, I've seen bears, they're mostly harmless. The court decision allowing the Bear Hunt to continue, it's wrong for nature. We should leave them to live their lives without the threat of being shot hanging over them. The fact that our courts and our elected officials are backing this hunt, it's a travesty, and eventually they will see that their backing of the bear hunt, it does have consequences.
About The Author
Matthew Frank Kot was born and raised here in Sault Ste Marie. He first starting writing articles for Soonews.ca in early 2008, becoming the city's youngest columnist and journalist. He then went on to write for Local2, and for a short time had his "MATTer of Opinion" column on SaultOnline.com. Matthew was very involved in the 2010 and 2014 Municipal Elections and wrote several opinion pieces about important issues. In 2011, Matthew started Sault Transit Reform and has continued advocating for a better transit system since then.