Letters To The Editor


October 28, 2005

Let hunters control the bear population

I have to wonder: When was the last time E. Joseph Lamp got out from behind his computer and took a walk in the beautiful Western Maryland forests ("Stop slaughter in Western Md.," Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 24)?

I recently spent two days doing just that. In my travels I did not see a single deer.

I did, however, see signs of bears in every area I hiked, such as broken and chewed saplings and bear scat. I also saw three black bears as I ranged over the area from northern to mid-southern Garrett County.

In talking to local residents, I learned that this is a rather common experience.

I have never hunted bear. However, I have seen their population continue to grow to the point where you can expect to see one when you take to the woods.

Given this population growth, I believe Maryland's hunters should be allowed to carry on the tradition and heritage of hunting the game animals that God has provided, so long as it is done in a well-structured and controlled environment.

Mr. Lamp notes that "last year, when the Humane Society of the United States offered [the Maryland Department of Natural Resources] $75,000 to more than cover the costs of farm damage reportedly caused by the bears, DNR rejected the offer."

The Humane Society does not care about the damage bears cause and the impact this has on farmers and their families. If it did, it would have provided the funds regardless of DNR's decision. The plain and simple truth is that the group tried to buy off the hunt.

It is obvious to me that Mr. Lamp, like the Humane Society of the United States, has an agenda - one that does not have the same stake in the environment as those who live there and share the land with the bears.

Jeffrey C. Merrill


Young marksman merits no applause

It is pathetic and sad, indeed, when an 8-year-old child shoots and kills a bear and states that it is her intention to make a rug out of it ("Youngest marksmen gets her bear first, as hunt begins in Md.," Oct. 25).

It is utterly disturbing, though, when the proud father of this child points to this experience as a learning experience, suggesting, as most hunters do, that killing animals with high-powered rifles, marksmen's bows and arrows and the like is a wonderful way to learn about nature.

What's the master class in this subject, strangling an ivory-billed woodpecker?

I fear to think what methods this father uses to instruct his child on other subjects.

The Sun shares blame for joining in the celebration of an 8-year-old bagging her first bear with its celebratory photos of the kill and hortatory reporting on the front page and in the sports section.

As a citizen of Maryland, I feel nothing but shame and sadness over the bear hunt and the first kill that so typifies it.

It has had one salutary effect, however, and that is that henceforth I will do everything I can to ensure that such idiocy will never again take place.

Christopher McClintick


Killing costs us our humanity

I could barely digest my breakfast after reading the front-page story about 8-year-old Sierra Stiles murdering her first black bear ("Youngest marksman gets her bear first, as hunt begins in Md.," Oct. 25).

As far as I'm concerned, that's exactly what it is. The willful killing of a magnificent creature - one of only a few hundred in Maryland.

And for what purpose - a rug for her floor?

Instead of teaching children to hunt animals for trophies, may I suggest instilling in them a reverence for all creatures great and small in our swiftly disappearing natural world?

George Goebel


As the English author Thomas Babington Macaulay observed, "The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators."

Call me a neo-Puritan, but I believe the best reason for opposing the Western Maryland bear hunt is not that it inflicts suffering on the animals (although it surely does), but that it puts guns in the hands of 8-year-old girls and encourages them to believe that slaughter is jolly good fun.

When humans of any age hunt for sport, the greatest damage is not to the wildlife but to humanity itself.

Arlene Ehrlich


Constitution puts Iraq on right path

The recent passage of a constitution by the voters in Iraq is just one more success story in a remarkable string of success stories in that country ("Iraq's dual milestones," Oct. 26).

The constant refrain from critics of the war of remarks such as "Democracy is not for the Iraqis," "How dare we push our form of government on the Iraqi people?" and "Iraqis cannot deal with freedom" is sickening, to say the least.

This mindset is nothing more than a subtle form of cultural racism.

Freedom, liberty and self-determination are not reserved for the West; they are inherent human characteristics. The Iraqi people are indeed capable of self-determination and self-government.

The Iraqi people want and deserve a government of, for and by the people.

They are well on their way.

James Pelura III

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