To the Editor:
A deer hunter has made me aware of a situation he encountered during the 2020 hunting season. He came upon two hunters, one older, the other perhaps a son, who had killed a mother bear and one of her three cubs. The other two cubs had treed for safety. Tragically, this meant that the two live cubs would die horrible deaths, either by slowly starving and freezing, being hit by cars or violently killed by an adult bear.
They would not yet have been taught to den up by the mother. The killing of bears with cubs is legal in Vermont, perhaps because not enough people are aware of it, as I was not.
The Vermont Fish and Game Department recommends that hunters not kill sows with cubs. These men did not have the ethical standards to resist the kills. This cruel practice is still legal in Vermont, while several states and some Canadian provinces have outlawed it.
Hopefully, enough people who read this will care enough to contact their representatives to request a change.
New Hampshire also allows this but recommends that the hunter inform Fish and Game officials of the orphaned cubs so that they can be rescued, and a rehabilitator can care for them and then rehabilitate them to the wild.
I am not aware of any bear cub rehabilitators in Vermont. There is Kilham Rehabilitation Center in New Hampshire run by Ben Kilham, his wife and sister. A fascinating read is “Among the Bears” by Ben Kilham.
Why not just make it illegal?