Like a lot of folks, I was saddened to learn of the death of Speedy, arguably one of Chilkoot’s most observed, loved and photographed bears. It is a tragic end to a bear that learned to tolerate people and provided thousands of hours of enjoyable viewing for visitors and locals alike. Bears learn tolerance through repetitive, benign interactions and Speedy was an example of how tolerant and human-habituated Chilkoot bears have become. Habituation is neither good nor bad; it is merely a consequence of how bears have adapted to survive in an area that is also heavily used by humans. Through no fault of their own, the Chilkoot bears have become vulnerable to the pressure of hunting.

To allow hunting in an area that is frequented by human-habituated bears is unethical and unconscionable. The current hunting closure of one-quarter mile from the road provides very little buffer, if any, for human-habituated bears whose home range far exceeds that strip of land.

We should protect one of Haines’ greatest resources by pushing for an expanded closure that would afford Chilkoot bears a chance at living out their lives without the threat of hunting.

Jane Pascoe