I feel I must disagree with Teressa Glazer on her column Jan. 24. She described the victory that PETA claimed in closing the bear pit in Helen. In the piece, it was stated that 17 grizzly and black bears were removed from the bear pits (which were in bankruptcy) and released into the wild in Colorado, where some of those bears who were born in captivity had never walked on grass until then.
I wonder who gained a victory here. PETA? Rod Hickox, who owned the pit, not having to pay to euthanize the bears? White County by not having a black mark on the tourism in Helen?
Because these 17 bears did not earn a victory due to two factors that will be the cause of their deaths: 1. There are those bears who were born into captivity. They do not know how to forage for food in the wild. They will encounter bears who have lived in the wild since birth that will protect their feeding grounds with unrestrained violence, most likely killing the captive raised bears. Or worse yet, these bears will not be able to put on enough fat or possibly not know how to find a place to hibernate, thus dying a slow death by freezing to death this winter.
And 2. All of these bears have been trained that people provide food, which in the wild is going to cause them to have encounters with people, possibly putting both the bear and those they come in contact with in danger. A starving bear, especially a large grizzly, will attack what he views as a source of food, thus insuring that the bear will be euthanized as he will pose a threat to humans because the bear has become dependent on people for food.
The bear pits that have dotted tourist areas for years are an atrocity and should be closed. However, sending these bears back into the wild with an ingrained behavior is really not a victory for them no matter how they are retrained. In the end, if they get hungry enough, that ingrained behavior will come to the surface and will eventually lead to the bear’s destruction by the hands of those he learned to depend on for survival.