Tags: bears | New Hampshire | chocolate | hunting | dont feed | Nanny State | government

Nanny State: Don't Feed the Bears Chocolate in New Hampshire

By    |   Monday, 13 April 2015 04:19 PM

Wander around the backwoods of New Hampshire long enough and you might think you’ve gone to Homer Simpson’s version of heaven.

Yes, you just might just find a giant pile of doughnuts.

Hunters use old doughnuts, discarded candy and baking chocolate to lure bears — the state has as many as 1,400 registered bear-baiting sites, according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department; it has many more unregistered sites on private property.

It seems the black bears in New Hampshire aren’t the stereotypical Winnie the Poo get-that-honey-at-all-costs variety. They have more refined tastes, and when they get a rumbly in their tumbly, it’s chocolate the bears want to savor.

But too much chocolate is bad for bears — to be fair, getting lured to an awaiting kill zone by a hunter isn’t really good for them, either. After a mama bear and two cubs died of an apparent chocolate-induced overdose last year, the state is under pressure from environmental groups to ban those giant piles of chocolate just sitting out in the woods.

Having a [bear] sow and cubs gorge on chocolate and die slow deaths doesn’t meet the standards for ethical hunting, the New Hampshire state director for the Humane Society told Reuters last week.

But as long as hunting and baiting bears is legal (and it should be), then there shouldn’t be too much shock over the accidental deaths of a few bears.

Hunters in New Hampshire say that doing so is a more effective way of hunting. Black bears aren’t endangered or threatened in any way — in fact, their numbers have been climbing in recent years, according to the state — so new rules created because of a few accidental bear deaths shouldn’t be a serious concern of the state government.

There’s a bit of hypocrisy on the other side of the debate, too, as hunters who want to harm bears with guns insist they wouldn’t want to see bears harmed by chocolate.

"I can tell you I’ve never found a dead bear. I don’t know any other guides that have," bear hunting guide Ken Dionne told New Hampshire Public Radio. "I can tell you if we were killing bears, some of these houndsmen would have found these dead bears over the years, and of course they haven’t."

If these hunters are the true naturalists they often claim to be, they should acknowledge the potential risks associated with these chocolate-laced baits and stop using them.

Is shooting a bear while it munches on a chocolate doughnut really all that much of a sport in the first place?

But if they don’t want to do that, the state has no right to force them. The piles of chocolate, candy and baked goods stashed in the New Hampshire forests aren’t a threat to the bear population as a whole, even if a few bears might overdose.

That’s really just another form of natural selection, after all.

And who knows what they might use in place of the chocolate baits, perhaps something that turns out to be even more dangerous for the bears — if they’re allowed to eat as much as they want.

Chuck Bolton has the right solution. He told officials from the Fish and Game Department that New Hampshire hunters should be able to fix this problem without state intervention.

"There’s plenty of bait available that doesn’t have chocolate in it. And I know a lot of hunters that avoid it [and] they make out fine," Bolton said in his testimony, according to NHPR. "I want to encourage you to do the right thing, and the right thing is to protect these bears."

Eric Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org and former bureau chief for Pennsylvania Independent. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enjoys great weather and low taxes.

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Wander around the backwoods of New Hampshire long enough and you might think you've gone to Homer Simpson's version of heaven. Yes, you just might just find a giant pile of doughnuts.
bears, New Hampshire, chocolate, hunting, dont feed, Nanny State, government, regulations
Monday, 13 April 2015 04:19 PM
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