If these cruel traps were judged by the agony they inflict, they would never be justified.
The Oregonian, 6/17/07
Bear traps stir hunter to complain
SUMMARY: Timber companies contract to protect tree plantations from major damage It
was not the legality of the bear killings that bothered Gary Ziak, it was the unnecessary
pain and suffering suggested by the remains.
Ziak, 69, is a second generation logger in Oregon's coastal mountains. He likes to
add that he is a hunter, too.
Last week, after following some buzzards circling carrion, he came upon the hides
of about 10 black bears. All had been legally killed by a contract hunter hired by
timber companies who find the bears an expensive nuisance. The bear carcasses were
scattered on the state's Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area, located east of Seaside, as
is state policy.
All their valuable parts had been properly disposed of: their meat to food banks
and their teeth, gall bladders and female reproductive organs delivered to the state
wildlife laboratory in Corvallis for analysis.
What bothered Ziak was the way the black bears, including a couple of yearlings,
were killed. The hunter had used a steel snare to grab the bears and hold them by
a leg. After the 48 to 72-hour period allowed by law, the hunter would have returned
and shot them in the head, Ziak said.
"There has to be measures taken where these bears are not taken in a trap," Ziak
said. "Can you imagine anything being (trapped) in there two or three days?"
Ziak complained to his local newspaper, which published a story, and calls started
pouring in to state authorities from readers as outraged as Ziak.
The longstanding practice of scattering the hides in the woods will now change. Instead
of scattering the bear hides for coyotes and buzzards to feast upon, the hides will
be buried, said Rick Klumph, North Coast Watershed district manager for the Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"I agree it looks pretty gruesome. From a biological standpoint it makes sense,"
he said. "But, it looks bad, all these heads and fur and claws."
No plans exist to halt the killing of nuisance bears.
Contract trapping and killing of bears, cougars and coyotes is both legal and common
in Oregon. Landowners can remove big game animals that damage their property, and
the hunters can use methods that are illegal in sport hunting.
In the case of timberland owners, the annual hunt for bears is a rite of spring.
When black bears awaken from hibernation in late spring, they are hungry. One of
their food sources is the inner bark of young trees. A single bear can tear into
dozens of trees in one day, a fact that drives some timber owners crazy.
They hire hunters to either use hounds and tree the bears or bait the bears and use
In 2006, 268 bears were killed in response to damage they caused, while another 14
were killed in the name of human safety , according to statistics from the Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The estimated black bear population in Oregon is 25,000 bears.
Ziak said the hunting ought to be left to sport hunters, whom voters banned from
hunting bears with dogs s in 1994. Still, sport hunters kill 1,100 or more bears
most years, state records show.
For his efforts, Ziak now faces the possibility of a ticket for trespassing on a
section of a state wildlife area that is closed to the public. He said he tried to
turn himself in to the state police in Astoria this week, but no one was at the office.
Klumph said no decision has been made on whether or not to issue Ziak a citation.
"They know where I live, but they haven't come and got me yet," Ziak said Friday.
"I welcome a ticket. I'd like to take it to Salem, and tell 'em what I think."