August 23, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 34

Why can people harass bears?

Do we have wildlife harassment laws? Why aren’t they being enforced on the Chilkoot River? Even if there weren’t laws, wouldn’t most intelligent people use common sense when they are fishing in bear country?

Last weekend there was a young bear in the river trying to catch fish. Onlookers swarmed down the bank and followed close behind him. He couldn’t go back because of the people and he couldn’t go forward because of more people. He couldn’t go into the river because of the anglers out there. He was surrounded! You could understand his frustration.

The solution would not be to kill the bears trying to survive by getting their winter food but to close the river from the weir to the bridge to anglers. The fishermen using the river don’t contribute to the Haines economy. They bring campers for sleeping, plus their food.

We need to build a bear-viewing deck for the safety of humans and bears can feed without interference.

Bear viewing is a very unique experience in Haines. We need to improve it, not degrade it by harassing the bears.

If, by chance, there is an unfortunate encounter between humans and bears it won’t be the fault of bears trying to feed. Sadly, the bear is always the loser!

Dixie Hays