Asheville Daily Planet
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The Daily Planet's Opinion: November 2018
Thursday, 01 November 2018 22:29

People vs. bears? Time to let common sense prevail

The issue of bears coming into contact with human beings seems to be increasingly in the spotlight in the Asheville area and we are pleased to see the outpouring of grief in the news media from so many residents who harbor sympathy for the right of the bears to co-exist with us, as peacefully as possible.

The most recent torrent of opinions was expressed following an incident in Swannanoa. For instance, Asheville’s Robert S. Gray and Cecil Givens wrote in a letter to the editor appearing recently in the Asheville Citizen Times that it amounted to “the senseless killing of a mother bear who was defending her cubs from perceived danger.” 

The incident involved Toni Rehegness, a 75-year-old woman, who was walking with her dog near her northeast Swannanoa home at 10:30 p.m. Sept. 18. Her dog started barking and a female bear reportedly attacked her and the dog. She suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries in the attack. Following treatment at a local hospital, she was released.

In the aftermath, the adult bear and her three cubs were trapped over the Sept. 21-23 weekend, according to the Wildlife Resources Commission.

The mother bear’s three cubs were healthy and old enough to be independent, so they were relocated to a remote area, the WRC noted, while the mother bear was euthanized to protect human safety and to keep her cubs from one day doing something similar.

The presence of trash in the neighborhood and the dog’s hostility toward the bear played a role in leading to the attack, Colleeen Olfenbuttel, the WRC’s black bear and furbearer biologist, told the news media.

Since the bears were here before us, we, along with the WRC, encourage residents to be respectful and accepting of the bears — and to keep one’s distance and not provide temptation via unsecured garbage or irresponsible food storage — even food for pets or birds outside.

In short, leave the bears alone. They will move on when the food is gone.


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