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Bear Baiting
September 16, 2010 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Bear baiting is possibly the world's most savage blood sport. Bears are have their teeth and claws removed, are tethered to a post and set upon by dogs. It is illegal in every civilized country. Authorities turn a blind eye to bear baiting in two countries: Pakistan and the USA, where South Carolina Officials refuse to act.

From the HSUS report:
"There are currently 26 captive black bears in South Carolina, many likely used for bear baiting. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources issued permits for their possession, but has turned a blind eye to the cruelty they endure. The South Carolina DNR does not inspect bear baiting competitions.... The DNR issued captive bear permits to individuals who had been convicted of violating wildlife laws, including poaching a bear out of season. "
A bear can live to 40; South Carolina bear-baiters have been issued with a permit to keep the bear, which is subjected to repeated assaults until it dies. Without teeth or claws, the bear cannot defend itself and is tormented simply for entertainment. No other country in the world - except for Pakistan - allows bear baiting to occur without restraint.
posted by Susurration (75 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
South Carolina does our country proud once again.
posted by mrnutty at 7:33 PM on September 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


After the owners pay their fines, will they be allowed back in the NFL?
posted by fatbird at 7:35 PM on September 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


Most of the time I laugh at the idea of the USA becoming a third world country. Now I'm thinking that in some aspects it already is.
posted by Memo at 7:42 PM on September 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


It is illegal in every civilized country.

You know who else enjoys baiting?
posted by gman at 7:42 PM on September 16, 2010 [18 favorites]


i are have my teeth removed, now i can't bite my claws!
posted by kitchenrat at 7:44 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is there anything for decent people to say here other than, "This is horrible"? This smacks of recreational outrage...
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:46 PM on September 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


Why would the DNR tolerate such and thing, and how'd they get everyone to agree on it? A lot of the people who work for agencies like that are wildlife biologists, forestry majors, or other natural resource types, and most people like that would be infuriated by this. Furthermore, even if it's something the locals accept, those agencies usually hire at least some people from out of state. You might have some people ignoring it, but not all of them.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:48 PM on September 16, 2010


It's going to be hard for the Daily Show to have fun with this SC story.

The biologists, each with more than 30 years of experience studying bears in the field, agree that bear baiting is a cruel practice that should be stopped.


The biologists also agree that the sky is blue and that puppies are cute.
posted by Red Loop at 7:49 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, we could mention that according to the link:

The bear — believed to be the same bear, a 15-year-old female, at all four events — was tied to a stake in a fenced area and attacked by up to three dogs at a time for several hours.


There is exactly one bear we know of being abused in the US. Not that that's OK, but it's a pretty big leap from there to "the US is a third-world country."
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:49 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


In 3D.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:52 PM on September 16, 2010


"There are currently 26 captive black bears in South Carolina, many likely used for bear baiting.

Well, do they have their teeth and claws? That'd be a clue, I think.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:52 PM on September 16, 2010


The older I get the less shocked I am by this kind of shit. There are truly some horrible horrible people out there.
posted by Vindaloo at 7:53 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've been to 44 states. If I get five more, and never set foot in SC, I'll consider the quest complete.

Hasn't the USA invaded other countries for less uncivilized behavior?
posted by notsnot at 7:54 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know those wacky laws, like "in Texas it's illegal to give a horse beer after six PM on a Tuesday" or "In Peoria, IL it is illegal to wear a wool hat to church" or whatever?

This is like the WTF of those, times a billion.
posted by padraigin at 7:57 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think we should sneak in there at night and replace the bear with one who has its teeth and claws. SURPRISE!!!
posted by desjardins at 7:59 PM on September 16, 2010 [40 favorites]


Please take the time to visit the link here and sign the petition ask them to stop this.
posted by DuoJet at 8:00 PM on September 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think we should sneak in there at night and replace the bear with one who has its teeth and claws. SURPRISE!!!

Surprise for the dogs, maybe, the bullshit people watching it would probably just be delighted by the turn of events.
posted by padraigin at 8:01 PM on September 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


Snark in the corporeal world. Oh yeah. The old bear switch trick. Heh.
posted by buzzman at 8:01 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


SC is great, 'cause no matter what your state does, it's still better than SC.
posted by nomadicink at 8:05 PM on September 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


It is illegal in every civilized country.

Apparently authorities turn a blind eye to the baiting of the common grar, as well.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:21 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


The problem with stuff like this is that it makes me sick and furious in equal measure, but I also feel completely impotent. I have a picture in my head of "people" enjoying barbarism, but they're just people, I don't know their names or their faces or what their houses look like, what jobs they do, so they become everybody, and as I am constantly surrounded by everybody so I get stuck with this idea - that you are cruel and vile, and you deserve nothing but pain - and in the end all I'm left with is hate.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:23 PM on September 16, 2010 [18 favorites]


They do it to bears because all those politically-correct urban elites won't let 'em do it to darkies anymore.
posted by klanawa at 8:32 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


and in the end all I'm left with is hate.

And the ability to at least sign a petition to the DNR to investigate and ban the practice. If you click email the DNR director, then click the link for "not an SC resident" on the page that comes up, you can esign it. Not much, but it's something.
posted by hoperaiseshell at 8:35 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you don't take care of it at the state level, we'll send in a federal wildlife ranger. Yes, just one. Ranger Bill.

As in William Tecumseh Sherman. He wasn't too happy with you the last time he was here, and I reckon he's less so now, being a ranger and all. A ranger with artillery.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:36 PM on September 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


They do it to bears because all those politically-correct urban elites won't let 'em do it to darkies anymore.
posted by klanawa at 11:32 PM on September 16 [+] [!] No other comments.


epon- oh forget it.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:38 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Authorities turn a blind eye to bear baiting in two countries: Pakistan and the USA, where South Carolina Officials refuse to act.

South Carolina is a state in the United States. The Constitution and federal law leaves most animal regulations (with the general exceptions of endangered species and animals involved in interstate commerce) to the states. To say that authorities in the United States turn a blind eye is a grossly over simplified statement.

Bear baiting is horrific. Your editorializing in a FPP is stupid and counter-productive to healthy debate.
posted by nestor_makhno at 8:39 PM on September 16, 2010


Dunno what good a petition is going to do when presented to a bunch of people who, I am beginning to suspect, are unable to read.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:42 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Bear baiting is horrific. Your editorializing in a FPP is stupid and counter-productive to healthy debate.

Well, what exactly is there to debate here? As you said, bear baiting is horrific. The fact that either the laws of SC or those enforcing them are allowing this to happen is vile.

Editorializing in the FPP is really the only thing to discuss...
posted by quakerjono at 8:52 PM on September 16, 2010


> Most of the time I laugh at the idea of the USA becoming a third world country. Now I'm thinking that in some aspects it already is.

More accurately, the USA is a top tier country that happens to envelop many third world nations within its borders.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:56 PM on September 16, 2010 [17 favorites]


Is there anything for decent people to say here other than, "This is horrible"?

Yes, particularly if they live in South Carolina and are able to communicate.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:04 PM on September 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think South Carolina uses Morse Dogs, where you kick them for the .'s and twist their tails for the -'s.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:07 PM on September 16, 2010


This smacks of recreational outrage...

Bear baiting is horrific. Your editorializing in a FPP is stupid and counter-productive to healthy debate.


I really don't understand. Animals are tortured slowly to death for public entertainment. We are supposed to adopt an attitude of sanguine detachment? We are supposed to neutrally present both sides of the argument. Outrage, like anger, is a normal, healthy reaction to the casual brutalities that still infect this planet. Whether it's a bear or a bull being slowly, agonizingly murdered for sport, or a boy, eyes red from weeping because his father was murdered, being suspended from school, outrage spurs people into action, cements community consensus against injustice, orients us morally, and has a place on Metafilter.
posted by Dasein at 9:08 PM on September 16, 2010 [16 favorites]


I don't remember this being mentioned on Metafilter before Obama became President. Now I'm not saying that he supports bear baiting, and that he probably invites his terrorist friends over to the oval office to watch a good bear fight now and then.... or am I?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:09 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, what exactly is there to debate here? As you said, bear baiting is horrific. The fact that either the laws of SC or those enforcing them are allowing this to happen is vile.

Editorializing in the FPP is really the only thing to discuss...


Good point. I should have said 'discussion' instead of 'debate.' I will also add that the term 'civilized' is also really inflammatory.

A better way to frame the post would have been:

Bear baiting is possibly the world's most savage blood sport. Bears are have their teeth and claws removed, are tethered to a post and set upon by dogs. It is illegal in most countries. Authorities are known to turn a blind eye to bear baiting in two places: Pakistan and South Carolina, where local officials refuse to act

From the HSUS report:
"There are currently 26 captive black bears in South Carolina, many likely used for bear baiting. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources issued permits for their possession, but has turned a blind eye to the cruelty they endure. The South Carolina DNR does not inspect bear baiting competitions.... The DNR issued captive bear permits to individuals who had been convicted of violating wildlife laws, including poaching a bear out of season. "
A bear can live to 40; South Carolina bear-baiters have been issued with a permit to keep the bear, which is subjected to repeated assaults until it dies. Without teeth or claws, the bear cannot defend itself and is tormented simply for entertainment. No other country in the world - except for Pakistan - allows bear baiting to occur without restraint.

posted by nestor_makhno at 9:11 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]



I really don't understand. Animals are tortured slowly to death for public entertainment. We are supposed to adopt an attitude of sanguine detachment? We are supposed to neutrally present both sides of the argument. Outrage, like anger, is a normal, healthy reaction to the casual brutalities that still infect this planet. Whether it's a bear or a bull being slowly, agonizingly murdered for sport, or a boy, eyes red from weeping because his father was murdered, being suspended from school, outrage spurs people into action, cements community consensus against injustice, orients us morally, and has a place on Metafilter.


See my above clarification. I hate that this happens and believe there is a right and a wrong side to this. This post was still, in my opinion, intentionally inflammatory. I fucking hate the term 'civilized.'
posted by nestor_makhno at 9:15 PM on September 16, 2010


I'm originally from North Carolina and get livid when people say I'm from South Carolina.

Now I have one more excuse.
posted by thecjm at 9:31 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter really needs a subsite where people can discuss site-etiquette w/r/t posts and all, so that it doesn't derail discussion in the blue.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:59 PM on September 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


Some days I have hope for us all, and some days that hope dies.
posted by davejay at 10:10 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I for one am perfectly fine with the OP's use of civilized in this context. I don't care if you can drive a truck and eat with utensils, tying up a defenseless animal so that it can be attacked again and again and again for your amusement gets you crossed right the @#$% off the list of civilized people. I'll add stabbing a bull to death to that list too.
posted by krakedhalo at 10:12 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


MeTa
posted by nestor_makhno at 10:18 PM on September 16, 2010


Where's ALF when you need them???
posted by symbioid at 10:29 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think this is part of a larger argument about whether or not the federal government should enact laws making it illegal to own animals like bears, tigers, etc. "Pets" like these are largely an unregulated area. Eleven states have no regulations at all regarding exotic pets (column on the topic focuses on tigers and great apes). What's the point of allowing people to keep animals like this? So we have our freedom? Silly. I wrote to my congressman about this, enclosing some source material and such, and got a blow off form letter back about how he wasn't on the right committee to do anything about it or some such blather. The only time anyone cared was when that woman got her face ripped off by a pet chimpanzee. Then it was all quickly forgotten and we got back to the business of naming post offices.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:41 PM on September 16, 2010


Authorities turn a blind eye to bear baiting in two countries: Pakistan and the USA, where South Carolina Officials refuse to act.
yeah I'm sure the authorities in Kazakhstan and Somalia are totally on top of that shit.
posted by delmoi at 12:44 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


We are supposed to adopt an attitude of sanguine detachment?

Only when the death and atrocities are directed against, ironically, poor Pakistani peasants. But I guess they probably deserve it what with their bear baiting and all. Personally, I think that bear baiting is the least of our problems when it comes to deciding if we are a "civilized country".
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:53 AM on September 17, 2010


Excellent point AElfwine Evenstar I agree with you one hundred percent. We should drop everything immediately and direct the entirety of our resources to one thing at a time. What should we put first on the list? What categories of importance do we employ, and what universally-applicable moral system? Will it be a democratic consensus, or will our instructions be conveyed from on high? Let's tackle child cannibalism first, then in a decade when we've got that problem licked the world over, we can move on to the next thing. People are setting fire to cripples in the street? No no no, we must take care of the children who eat other children! Ignore the burning wheelchair people!
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:07 AM on September 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


I mean, the least of our problems is sentient animal capable of pain being ruthlessly tortured for sheer sport? Indeed, for any reason? Fuck you, guy. Fuck you with a year's worth of disposable razors.
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:09 AM on September 17, 2010 [2 favorites]



After viewing the video of a bunch of fools milling around watching a bear baiting I have finally figured out what a street sweeper would be good for.

Yeah, I know. Stupid comment. But all the same..
posted by notreally at 3:23 AM on September 17, 2010


There are two "civilized" countries that have the death penalty: US and Japan. Pakistan has the death penalty too. Therefore US and Japan are becoming third world countries.

Death penalty = humans kill humans as others watch for satisfaction and "justice."

Where did the US as third world rhetoric come from all the sudden? Surely we aren't taking our discursive cues from Arianna Huffington.
posted by vincele at 3:36 AM on September 17, 2010


South Carolina and Pakistan, two areas known for staunchly religious values. I wonder how much this tolerance of cruelty has to do with beliefs that "God created animals for us to do as we like with", with that extending to torturing them to death for our amusement.
posted by acb at 3:49 AM on September 17, 2010


I think Joanna Newsom said it best when she sang:

down in the green hay
where monkey and bear usually lay
they woke from a stable-boy's cry

he said; someone come quick!
the horses got loose, got grass-sick!
they'll founder! fain, they'll die

what is now known by the sorrel and the roan?
by the chestnut, and the bay, and the gelding grey?

it is: stay by the gate you are given
and remain in your place, for your season
and had the overfed dead but listened
to that high-fence, horse-sense, wisdom...

"did you hear that, Bear?" said monkey
we'll get out of here, fair and square
they've left the gate open wide!

so;
my bride
here is my hand, where is your paw?
try and understand my plan, Ursala
my heart is a furnace
full of love that's just, and earnest
now; you know that we must unlearn this
allegiance to a life of service
and no longer answer to that heartless
hay-monger, nor be his accomplice
(that charlatan, with artless hustling!)
but; Ursala, we've got to eat something
and earn our keep, while still within
the borders of the land that man has girded
(all double-bolted and tightfisted!)
until we reach the open country
a-steeped in milk and honey

will you keep your fancy clothes on, for me?
can you bear a little longer to wear that leash?
my love, I swear by the air I breathe:
sooner or later, you'll bare your teeth

but for now, just dance, darling
c'mon, will you dance, my darling?
darling, there's a place for us
can we go, before I turn to dust?
oh my darling, there's a place for us
oh darling
c'mon will you dance, my darling?
oh, the hills are groaning with excess
like a table ceaselessly being set
oh my darling, we will get there yet

they trooped past the guards,
past the coops, and the fields, and the farmyards
all night, till finally:

the space they gained grew
much farther than the stone that bear threw
to mark where they'd stop for tea

but walk a little faster
and don't look backwards
your feast is to the East, which lies a little past the pasture

when the blackbirds hear tea whistling, they rise and clap
and their applause caws the kettle black
and we can't have none of that!

move along, Bear; there, there; that's that
(though cast in plaster
our Ursala's heart beat faster
than monkey's ever will)

but still;
they have got to pay the bills
hadn't they?
that is what the monkey'd say

so, with the courage of a clown, or a cur
or a kite, jerking tight at its tether
in her dun-brown gown of fur
and her jerkin of swan's down and leather

Bear would sway on her hind legs;
the organ would grind dregs of song, for the pleasure
of the children, who'd shriek
throwing coins at her feet
then recoiling in terror

sing, dance, darling
c'mon, will you dance, my darling?
oh darling, there's a place for us
can we go, before I turn to dust?
oh my darling, there's a place for us

oh darling
c'mon, will you dance, my darling?
you keep your eyes fixed on the highest hill
where you'll ever-after eat your fill
oh my darling, dear, mine
if you dance
dance, darling, and i love you still

deep in the night
shone a weak and miserly light
where the monkey shouldered his lamp

someone had told him
the bear had been wandering
a fair piece away from where they were camped

someone had told him
the bear'd been sneaking away
to the seaside caverns, to bathe

and the thought troubled the monkey
for he was afraid of spelunking down in those caves
also afraid what the village people would say
if they saw the bear in that state;
lolling and splashing obscenely
well, it seemed irrational, really; washing that face
washing that matted and flea-bit pelt
in some sea-spit-shine, old kelp dripping with brine
but monkey just laughed, and he muttered;
when she comes back, Ursala will be bursting with pride

'til I jump up!
saying: you've been rolling in muck!
saying: you smell of garbage and grime!

but far out
far out
by now
by now
far out, by now, Bear ploughed
'cause she would not drown:

first the outside-legs of the bear
up and fell down, in the water, like knobby garters
then the outside-arms of the bear
fell off, as easy as if sloughed from boiled tomatoes
low'red in a genteel curtsy
bear shed the mantle of her diluvian shoulders;
and, with a sigh, she allowed the burden of belly
to drop like an apronfull of boulders

if you could hold up her threadbare coat to the light
where it's worn translucent in places
you'd see spots where almost every night of the year
Bear had been mending suspending that baseness
now her coat drags through the water
bagging, with a life's-worth of hunger, limitless minnows
in the magnetic embrace
balletic and glacial of Bear's insatiable shadow

left there!
left there!
when Bear left Bear

left there!
left there!
when Bear stepped clear of Bear

(sooner or later, you'll bury your teeth...)
posted by kaibutsu at 4:04 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


South Carolina and Pakistan, two areas known for staunchly religious values. I wonder how much this tolerance of cruelty has to do with beliefs that "God created animals for us to do as we like with", with that extending to torturing them to death for our amusement.

I think its simpler than that. People and cultures which are vicious, nasty and rotten are naturally more religious to (in their heads) compensate for their failures and hopefully (in their heads) preempt a harsh divine judgement. Additionally, the perceived authority of religious myths is useful to justify and implement their abuse, oppression and hateful ways, as in the catholic child abuse cases, gay bashing, racism, colonialism, genocide, etc.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:39 AM on September 17, 2010


Found something cool on the web and want to share it with everyone else?
posted by Gator at 4:42 AM on September 17, 2010


I live a few hundred feet from South Carolina, so I get a front row seat to these sorts of shenanigans. This issue was a big deal in the media here about 2-3 weeks ago but seems to have blown over. I hope this attention on the internet will keep it in the public eye long enough that something is done to stop it. Those of you who have been here a few years may remember this post about cockfighting and domestic violence. This editorial from The State newspaper in Columbia gives a more nuanced view of the practice but still comes out firmly against it. Supporters of the practice claim it is necessary to train dogs for hunting bears, but if that is so, I wonder how bear hunters in the rest of the world manage?

I also find it noteworthy that the common name for it here is bear "baying". Is that a simple misunderstanding of the word "baiting", or is it a deliberate attempt to distance themselves from the negative connotations of the latter term? It would be interesting to hear what one of our resident language experts thinks.
posted by TedW at 4:43 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


People and cultures which are vicious, nasty and rotten...

It was known as "Bloody Edgefield." From the earliest days of settlement the upcountry South Carolina county was the scene of violence and mayhem.

It just so happens that is the part of South Carolina across the river from me; the book reviewed at my link is well worth reading.
posted by TedW at 4:51 AM on September 17, 2010


Additionally, the perceived authority of religious myths is useful to justify and implement their abuse, oppression and hateful ways, as in the catholic child abuse cases, gay bashing, racism, colonialism, genocide, etc.

And, indeed, exculpate them. After all, if that bear doesn't have a soul, you're not really being cruel to it any more than you can be cruel to a rock. And if God is going to make everything alright in the afterlife, it would be unnecessary, if not presumptuous and blasphemous, to concern ourselves with eliminating injustice in this world.
posted by acb at 4:51 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Basically, it would be unnecessary, if not presumptuous and blasphemous, to concern ourselves with anything other than our lizzard brain.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 5:02 AM on September 17, 2010


Hunh. I am heading to SC tonight in fact for a visit and will have opportunity I think to speak with a family friend at the DNR. Will have to see what he has to say.

This is beyond dreadful.
posted by pointystick at 5:31 AM on September 17, 2010


TedW ^ See 3 Bay : - Cornering of a hunted animal 14th century. At bay (1640s and around about the European settlement) is from "chorus raised by hounds in conflict with quarry".
posted by adamvasco at 6:25 AM on September 17, 2010


I think we should sneak in there at night and replace the bear with one who has its teeth and claws.

How, exactly, does one "replace bears?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:50 AM on September 17, 2010


First you have to get a bag of sand that weighs roughly the same amount...
posted by rosswald at 6:59 AM on September 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Not sure why folks getting so upset. This is a fun sport!


posted by Postroad at 7:20 AM on September 17, 2010


Between my irrepressible love of bears, and my absolute hatred for the casual cruelty inherent in animal fighting, I think I'm going to choose to not follow the attached links.

Because the urge to Do-Something-About-It might overwhelm. (Which would be bad, because my first thought involves taking the people who set this sort of thing up, tethering them to a post and loosing some black bears on them, which seems like an obvious and satisfying choice...)

I really, really hate this kind of thing. A lot.
posted by quin at 7:50 AM on September 17, 2010


That was my first thought too, quin.

I don't think there's much I can add - it should be pretty obvious that this is a bad thing.

As for "editorializing" in the FPP...Are you fucking kidding me? Is there supposed to be some "fair and balanced" Fox News style coverage that gives equal weight to some wack job monster that would conduct this kind of activity? Frankly, I don't see any editorializing in the FPP whatsoever (but I would wholeheartedly support some, as in "let's cut the balls off the assholes and feed them to their dogs" editorializing). It's about as neutral an FPP could get on a subject like this. It's textbook.

The only reservation I have is about the veracity of the story itself. It is very easy to get worked up about reports that are written credibly. I would hope that this is the case...I would rather be duped into rage than that this actually be happening.
posted by Xoebe at 8:08 AM on September 17, 2010


Reading this article brings me great pain, shame, and embarassment, as I grew up in South Carolina, a place with many beautiful and graceful people, but a place also with a liberal sprinkling of fools. In my 30+ years living there, I never once heard that these barbaric acts existed, and I feel absolute confidence that raising awareness in South Carolina that this sort of thing is happening will outrage the good people there and something will be done about it.

I am no longer a resident, but I still have family there. I will be contacting each of them to write letters to the governor.
posted by sicjoy at 9:42 AM on September 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Whenever the topic of animal bloodsports comes up, I can't help but think about the fact that so many popular breeds of dog owe their existence to the former popularity of such activities.
posted by nickmark at 11:46 AM on September 17, 2010


I also find it noteworthy that the common name for it here is bear "baying". Is that a simple misunderstanding of the word "baiting", or is it a deliberate attempt to distance themselves from the negative connotations of the latter term? It would be interesting to hear what one of our resident language experts thinks.

Full disclosure for the rest of this comment -- I used to foxhunt years ago (American foxhunting, we don't kill the quarry), so I have a different perspective on hunting with dogs and its place in our modern world.

Bear baying is not a corruption of bear baiting -- they have different purposes all together. Plott Hounds, along with Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Catahoula Leopard Dogs and other similar breeds, are bred to bring their quarry to bay or tree. Bringing quarry to bay means either cornering it against some environmental feature or surrounding it with the pack, thereby (if you're hunting bears) motivating it to stand up on its hind legs, making for a cleaner kill shot. To tree is pretty obvious. :)

The stated goal of bear baying, whether it's actually followed or not, is to train hunting packs -- to introduce young dogs to the sights, smells, and sounds of bringing a bear to bay. It teaches young dogs how to handle themselves in that situation, and owners to wash them out as bear hunters if they are too aggressive or too fearful before they are in a position to make a fatal mistake. The point of bear baying is not the death or injury of either bear or dogs. Bear baiting, on the other hand, is entirely about the injury of bear and/or dogs, as the dogs used in it are fighting dogs, not hunting dogs. The dogs attack the bear, where a good hunting dog stays out of reach and doesn't risk injury.

No animal should be mutilated, whether it's declawing/defanging bears, declawing cats, debarking dogs, or cropping dogs' ears.

Apart from the mutilation issue, I think that this is a more nuanced issue than presented in the FPP. Bear population needs to be held in check by hunting in some method. Nothing else kills bears, and letting Nature's method of population control, starvation, is a bad idea in our urbanized society. Starving bears will not respect park boundaries, and will come into human populated areas to find food, like Dumpsters, pets, and humans. Using dogs to track and then bay bears is one of the most efficient methods of hunting bears, since leaving bait out and shooting them when they come to feed has been banned in most of the country and has a pretty low success rate anyway. The mortality rate for untrained hunting packs isn't good -- a black bear can come out of a tree or a bay and kill your pack remarkably easily. Hunters have to be able to keep up with their dogs on foot, through heavy trees, so they can get the kill shot before the bear decides that fight is its only remaining option. Dogs that are too aggressive or too fearful will inadvertently goad the bear into making that fight decision faster.

So, how do we balance cruelty, efficient hunting, training, and the sensibilities of the urban public? We can't ban bear hunting because we need a check on population. We could ban baying, and ask the hounds and their owner to take the increased risk of mortality and injury. I've seen a pack of foxhounds come across a bear while chasing a fox, and that bear maim two of those dogs with a casual sweep of its paw. It's pretty terrible, and those dogs had to be euthanized on the spot. We could just ban hunting with dogs -- it's banned in Massachusetts, for example, and they still have a bear season. I just wonder how many bears get shot and run away and die slowly there -- bears tend to bleed into their heavy fat layer so they don't usually leave a blood trail for a hunter to follow, thus making it much more likely that the hunter will be unable to find and dispatch the wounded animal.

And, selfishly, I would hate to see Plott Hounds and Leopard Dogs and all the other amazing American hunting dogs go extinct. They're magnificent animals, and there's nothing like hearing the hounds on a scent, doing the job that has literally been bred into blood and bone. An eight week old Plott puppy wants to track and chase, just like a Border Collie wants to herd.

The HSUS would like to see all hunting end. How they plan to deal with predator and prey populations and their interaction with human society, I'm not sure. They never actually say, and if you ask them they don't give you an answer. I think this FPP would have been much stronger if the poster had done a little more research on what baying is, how it differs from baiting, and didn't just kneejerk in response to HSUS' shock tactics.
posted by Concolora at 1:06 PM on September 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


What's the point of allowing people to keep animals like this? So we have our freedom? Silly.

Wow.

-----

Reading this article brings me great pain, shame, and embarassment, as I grew up in South Carolina, a place with many beautiful and graceful people, but a place also with a liberal sprinkling of fools. In my 30+ years living there, I never once heard that these barbaric acts existed, and I feel absolute confidence that raising awareness in South Carolina that this sort of thing is happening will outrage the good people there and something will be done about it.

I'm a resident of SC with a ton of family in the state and I'm shocked that any current or former SC resident could be unaware of the popularity of blood sports. Wasn't there a front page article in The State about ten years or so back, on a big bust where they were setting pit bulls on hogs? I've seen other mentions in the paper over the years as well.
posted by BigSky at 5:41 PM on September 17, 2010


I also second the recommendation for 'All God's Children'. Good book.

Edgefield county is an interesting place.
posted by BigSky at 5:43 PM on September 17, 2010


So, how do we balance cruelty, efficient hunting, training, and the sensibilities of the urban public? We can't ban bear hunting because we need a check on population.

You can cull the population efficiently without having people chase them for fun. Most obviously, you could just set boring cage traps out with battery/solar sensors and transmitters that let someone know when they've been tripped, and then a state employee goes to the trap, walks up the bear, and kills it (or releases whatever else it tripped it).

I don't have anything against hunting myself, except insofar as hunters sometimes put bullets where they don't belong. Still, the fact that animals need to be "hunted" in the sense of killing a wild animal doesn't in any way imply that they need to be "hunted" in the sense of a sporting activity where in some way the animal has a fair chance or whatever, or for the animal to be killed in a way that preserves a trophy.

I'm not suggesting that other ways to cull bear populations would be preferable, really, but just arguing that "bears need to die" doesn't imply "bears need to be at the wrong end of sporting hunting."

Alternately, we could release cybernetic bear-killing Von Neumann machines that go out into the woods, make a few more of themselves from trees or whatnot, and then kill some bears when the satellite says to. We could call them bahrenjaegers. What could go wrong?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:26 PM on September 17, 2010


What a bullshit premise: The only way to efficiently hunt bears is with dogs. Its like the hate vs. heritage crap, or the Japanese explanations for killings dolphins and whales. I find the notion that we should work to "preserve" a man-made breed of dog equally devoid of rational thought. They aren't endangered species, they're dogs we bred to do our dirty work.

I think those retards in the audience should be forced to "bay" the bear. Even without teeth and claw, she'd fuck their shit up.

I had relatives in Michigan who hunted bears with dogs. I visited once, when I was little, and saw a horribly mutilated dog. I was offered some bear meat that night. They might as well have offered me a plate of steaming shit. Sometimes, I have nightmares about that time and that place.

Sometimes, change is progress.
posted by Shike at 10:54 AM on September 18, 2010


Leave a message for the National Plott Hound Association, sponsors of the bear baying "competitions."
posted by Shike at 11:05 AM on September 18, 2010


I don't understand people.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 12:58 PM on September 18, 2010


Ok, so the Pakistani government turns a blind eye to an INCREDIBLE amount of stuff that is certainly much more widespread and almost as certainly more important than bear-baiting, however horrifying we find bear-baiting to be.

I have no desire to bring out a laundry list of the various duties my government neglects; let's just say I'm more concerned about them turning a blind eye to the equally illegal targeting of minority places of worship, for one example.

Oh and bear baiting IS illegal in Pakistan.
posted by bardophile at 5:22 AM on September 19, 2010


The point of bear baying is not the death or injury of either bear or dogs.

Well, by your explanation, it seems that the point of it is in fact the death of the bear, at least. A quick clean death, sure, but still death. Just to nit pick.
posted by antifuse at 6:23 AM on September 21, 2010


I'm shocked that any current or former SC resident could be unaware of the popularity of blood sports.
I'm not that naive. I was aware that blood sports were happening in SC as they are all over the country (Michael Vick). I wouldn't say that they are "popular", but that's a relative term.

The thing that pains me the most about bear baiting in SC is that it is legal.
posted by sicjoy at 10:11 AM on September 21, 2010


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