Letters To The Editor


August 09, 2004

Still no reason for Md. to allow killing of bears

It's shocking that The Sun's editorial page has reversed its position on Maryland's attempt to open a trophy hunt for black bears ("Maryland's bear season," editorial, Aug. 3), because not much has changed since the paper published its opposition to that same radical shift in our half-century-old wildlife policy ("Bearing the burden," editorial, Jan. 25, 2000).

The bear population is still small, estimated at only a few hundred animals. There are still few conflicts between people and bears, mostly just bear sightings and minor nuisances related to trash cans and bird feeders - and these can be easily and humanely solved by teaching people to store food and trash properly.

There has still never been a bear attack on a person in Maryland, while hunting accidents injure dozens and even kill some people each year in our state.

There is still a relatively small amount of agricultural damage caused by bears, fluctuating between $10,000 and $50,000 each year.

One thing that has changed, however, is that animal protection groups have offered $75,000 to the state if the bear hunt is called off. The money would be used to compensate Maryland farmers for every dime they lose because of bears and to augment the state's educational programs to resolve human-bear conflicts.

Yet rather than accept this constructive solution, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and our cash-strapped wildlife agencies have decided that opening a trophy hunt is more important than putting money in the pockets of farmers.

Michael Markarian

Silver Spring

The writer is president of the Fund for Animals.

The Department of Natural Resources' plan for the first bear hunt in Maryland in 50 years will not solve the problem of bears in our backyards.

Conflicts with bears generally occur when individual bears become accustomed to food sources left outside. Poorly secured garbage cans, pet food and bird feeders are magnets for bears.

By removing these food sources, homeowners can help make their properties uninviting to bears.

The hunt will be nothing more than a recreational opportunity for a few, and should not be touted as an effective solution for resolving bear conflicts.

The bears caught in this fall's crossfire aren't even likely to be the ones scavenging in garbage cans or damaging crops. They will be the ones deep in the woods not bothering anyone.

Bette Stallman


The writer is a wildlife scientist for the Humane Society of the United States.

Chavez trivializes Kerry's war service

Politics tends to bring out the worst in people, particularly in an election year. But this does not excuse the Linda Chavez's repulsive diatribe attacking Sen. John Kerry's service in the Vietnam War ("Kerry's Vietnam claims," Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 5).

Ms. Chavez trivializes Mr. Kerry's valor under fire, brushes aside the testimonials of those who served alongside him and even neglects to mention the three Purple Hearts he earned in combat. Instead, she chooses to question his motives for carrying a camera, imagining how "cumbersome" this might have been. Is this woman joking?

As for Mr. Kerry's activities after the war, I would suggest that his opinions and beliefs were well-earned. The man earned the right to try to make sense of the madness he had just lived through, a madness he experienced in a way people such as Linda Chavez and myself could never imagine.

Like Ms. Chavez, I have no idea what a "free-fire zone" is truly like. I have never risked my life to save another, and I have never witnessed my closest friends blown to pieces.

But I am grateful that there are men and women who are willing to do these things.

And I would never repudiate the service of someone who has risked his or her life for me.

Matt Golden


Attacks on Kerry add to our division

Linda Chavez's column "Kerry's Vietnam claims" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 5) continues the organized assault on Sen. John Kerry. It also demonstrates how some people intend to carry the president's re-election banner - with an attack campaign following the now-routine practice of smear, divide and conquer.

We are facing severe challenges in this country, and bitter invective only diverts attention from important issues and furthers continuing national division.

Ms. Chavez's petty approach is not only unwise but unbecoming.

Stefan N. Miller


Security is needed as we fight fanatics

How typical of The Sun to publish two articles on Friday complaining of the inconvenience of the security measures prompted by the recent heightened terror alerts ("Insecurity measures in the nation's capital," Aug. 6, and "Fortress Washington," editorial, Aug. 6).

Typical, in that liberals such as Michael Olesker have little sense of proportion as they regularly gripe about how their "liberties" are being curtailed when they must wait in traffic or in line.

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