I just returned from a trip in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. June is also a time for bear hunters and bear baiters to visit these lands. I separate the two into distinct groups because the latter dumps food on the forest floor and waits until a black bear visits the pile before shooting it. That is not hunting. You can call it slob-hunting or immoral, disgusting and littering. Idaho calls it legal. What isn’t legal is baiting bears near a campground or campsite and that is what I observed near the Bear Creek pack bridge. The pile contained oatmeal, granola bars and chili, and my dog was instantly attracted to it.
After photographing the bait pile, I heard the buzz of an airplane. People along the trail told me that bear baiters from Indiana had just departed after flying in for the week. As I stood along the river and watched the plane fly away I had thoughts of anger, sadness and disgust for both the individuals in the plane and for the decision makers that permit this at the Idaho Department Fish and Game and the Forest Service. The Wilderness deserves better, the bears deserve better, and so do we.
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