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Sharing the woods with bears

| November 13, 2007 11:00 PM

To the Editor:

In the Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007 Missoulian newspaper, there was a story about a hunter who shot and killed a grizzly. The fact that the hunter shot the bear probably saved his life. What happened to the bear isn't the reason why I'm writing this letter.

What really got my attention were the comments by the grizzly bear specialist, Jamie Jonkel. Jonkel states that pepper spray is a better deterrent to bear attacks than firearms. I would suggest to the specialist the reason why that may be true is that people are waiting too long before they start firing on a charging bear.

A grizzly bear is only one step away from a charge even if it is out there at 500 yards. Hunters, don't wait until the bear is right on top of you. Firearms are very effective at long range.

Jonkel further states that hunters should … "make plenty of noise and avoid hunting alone…" Think about that statement. Hunters who are trying to sneak up on an elk are advised by the FWP service to put a bell around their necks and whistle and sing at the top of their lungs. That makes a whole lost of sense to me. Anyone who has lived and hunted in Montana knows just how idiotic that statement is.

Just so Jonkel understands; we are out there to SNEAK up on the animals we are hunting. Letting them know of our presence is the last thing we want to happen…shh..be very quiet.

If a grizzly or a wolf happen to charge us in our quest to fill the freezer, then too bad for them. We are just exercising our instinct to stay alive. The same the FWP tells us every time there is an encounter between a grizzly and a human… "They are only doing what their instincts dictate they do." SURVIVE! Apparently we don't have that right.

In case the public has forgotten how you can always tell the difference between black bear scat and grizzly scat: black bear scat has berries, grasses, etc. and grizzly bear scat has bones, undigested meat, has bells in it and smells like pepper spray.

Don W. Wilkins

Libby