Giving bears a second chance

To the Editor:

The inflexibility of the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission (NCWRC) is alarming. The killing of a three-legged yearling bear in Western North Carolina without following up on the accredited sanctuary the community had found to accept this bear is inexcusable. This was not a case of asking NCWRC to save every habituated bear as the ranger, Mike Carraway, had indicated on a television interview. Members of this community had done the work to save this bear by finding an accredited facility to take the bear. NCWRC should have honored the research and work the community had accomplished. All they had to do was trap this yearling to transport it to the sanctuary. NCWRC even denied the request from Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, who personally called and asked the local wildlife biologist in charge to work on behalf of the three-legged bear in allowing him to be moved to a permanent sanctuary.

Having lived in Tennessee for 25 years working for the Tennessee Valley Authority, I was appalled to find out the shoot first and think later policies of NCWRC. There are other alternatives. The Appalachian Bear Rescue (ARB) located in Townsend, Tenn., has saved over 185 bears since 1996 when it opened. Now that’s being stewards of our wildlife resources. Officially under the auspices of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA), it has established working relationships with many states including Virginia, Arkansas, Georgia and Louisiana. Most of the ABR bears have been returned to the wild but under special circumstances bears have also been placed in sanctuaries or zoos.

I personally asked Mike Carraway to talk with ABR and TWRA years ago and he refused to do so. He told me North Carolina knows how to handle their bears. I believe they can learn from others and it would benefit all for them to develop working relationships with other state’s wildlife resource agencies. A spirit of cooperation with others is needed. The culture of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission needs to change, and we the citizens of North Carolina can make a difference. Now is the time to vote for those who will change NCWRC into real stewards of our wildlife!

Cheryl V. Ward


Editor’s note: According to The Asheville Citizen-Times Oct. 9 edition, the three-legged bear was shot and killed by a staff member of the community where it had become a nuisance, not by Wildlife Resources officers. However, state wildlife officers said it was their policy not to trap and relocate wild, nuisance bears.

SEE ALSO: N.C. Wildlife Commission sets the record straight on euthanization as last resort

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