In response to bearbaiting [“Bad News Bear Hunters,” September-October], you should know that in Minnesota, bears are in the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul. They are yearlings looking for their own territory to call home. As the Minnesota bear population increases, there is less space for their territory, and as more people move out of cities, there is less space to peacefully coexist. Who is to survive? Your article is slanted; the anti-bait, anti-hunt position is slanted.
Bears usually prefer natural foods—berries, acorns, carrion, sweet corn—and this results in fewer bears being shot in Minnesota. During peak season the bears are usually in dens and not too likely to be shot. With a bear season, their numbers are increasing.
Ted Williams's “Bad News Bear Hunters” was the best I've read on the subject. It's incredible to me that anyone can consider bearbaiting to be hunting. Moving the season from spring to fall in Maine to spare the cubs only made them older when they starved to death. Cubs are born while the mother is denned up for the winter. Cubs stay denned up with their mother the following winter as well. If you shoot a sow with cubs in the fall, the cubs are not going to survive then either.
Donna J. Runnels
Ted Williams responds:
First, bears are not “usually in dens” during the hunting season. They are out and about, storing fat for hibernation. Second, “anti-bait” does not translate to “anti-hunt.” I agree with Ms. Runnels that bearbaiting is not hunting. Moreover, I maintain that bearbaiting is an “anti-hunting” act in that it sullies the hunter's image. Finally, as I demonstrated in the article, bear control can be effectively accomplished without using bait.
I, too, was once a member of the fundamentalist and evangelical Christian community. I attended a Baptist church, hung out with conservative Christians, and later graduated from a conservative theological seminary. Nearly 30 years ago I introduced my church-friend evangelicals to the idea of considering nature as God's creation, and scripturally mandating it as something we care for. I was labeled a pantheist.
Next I brought to them the idea of taking care of our bodies via nutrition and diet—primarily through buying organic foods together in a cooperative arrangement. I was labeled a communist.
Finally, I attempted to bring to their attention the idea of the biblical basis for a concern for justice and the poor. I was labeled a humanist.
Now Mr. Cizik and Mr. Woolsey [“The Holy & the Hawks,” September-October] are finding out what they, and those like me, are up against. It's almost as if the religious right is more supportive of its ideological foundation than a biblical one. If so, sorry folks, that's idolatry.
In short, Cizik's and Woolsey's efforts are praiseworthy, but they are barking up the wrong tree. Talking to and reasoning with the fringe groups—who do not actually listen to God talk—will not do. The moderates and progressives of the Christian faith must lead the way.
What a powerful photo [“Final Frontier,” September-October] of the logs stacked up to create the billions of catalogues we pitch in the garbage upon receipt! I spent the afternoon canceling catalogue deliveries and forwarding your article to my friends. Thanks for waking us up to the reality of such insanity!
The Hubble telescope has brought us images from deep space, where potential life may only be on the drawing board. In David Tipling's cover image of the great gray owl [September-October], those same basic ingredients, brought to life and purpose, can be felt in the depth of that wondrous bird's eye.
Rene Russo's efforts to restore the native vegetation on her property and her efforts toward creating and sustaining the California Landscape Heritage Campaign are outstanding [“Hollywood Native,” July-August]. However, I would like to address one point: It isn't clear where the watering rocks “designed” for her property came from (perhaps they were already there), but their presence and the later mention of Ms. Russo's remodeling using native sandstone raise questions about the removal of large rocks from their place of origin for no greater purpose than the adornment of human dwellings.
When large rocks are mined, the surface of the earth is torn up, roads—often miles of them—are constructed, and heavy trucks are used to transport the stone, not just to the next surface street but to the market at large. Think of the petroleum and air pollution associated with just this aspect.
But those rocks often lie below such endangered habitats as California's vanishing vernal pool grasslands, which support the federally endangered California tiger salamander and other dwindling species. Wetland habitats such as vernal pools are nearly impossible to re-create for any degree of longevity.
As is true of so much of what we Americans consume, large rocks and large slabs of stone arrive in your local store or at your home at a devastating and escalating environmental cost. Please consider the environmental consequences of absolutely every single one of your choices.
Page 41 of the July-August issue featured a full-page photograph by Joel Sartore of two ivory-billed woodpecker specimens at the University of Nebraska State Museum, but there was no credit to the museum, where the specimens are kept on display. The editors thank the university for making the specimens available to the public and photographers alike.
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© 2005 National Audubon Society