Yesterday I went to the little service station/grocery/burger counter two doors down to get lunch. A pickup truck pulled out just as I approached leaving the only open parking space to me. (and, yes, I could have walked, but I'm lazy) As I approached the doors, I glanced into the back of a small pick-up truck parked at the gas pumps. Something black was bulging over the top of the truck bed. A 400 pound black bear was there - dead, tongue lolling out of its mouth. With the exception of two small propane tanks, this bear filled the bed of the truck.
I would rather have seen my first eastern North Carolina black bear alive and at a distance, but I certainly would not have wanted to be up close and personal with this Goliath. I grabbed my cell phone and got a picture - which I am not printing here. I wanted to be reminded.
I ordered my burgers to go and went back outside to talk to the man who shot it. He said that the bears had been eating his livestock and his neighbors' livestock. What would he do with the bear? Eat it. Nothing would be wasted. He lives about a mile down the road from me.
Picture is borrowed from Animal Trial.
We live on the edge of a large national forest where some minor logging is permitted and hunting is permitted, but the dirt roads through the forest show a few hiking trails and lots of trees - no human habitation - not even litter. The bears in eastern North Carolina have flourished and grown huge and hungry. As their habitat grows smaller - even with a large protected forest - they grow more numerous and food is scarce, especially in years when winter comes late. The bears are normally in hibernation by now; however, our warm weather has delayed their usual habits and they are hungry. They seek food; black bears are omnivorous. The grasses, berries and small animals are gone now. So they find fenced animals that are easy prey. And, the owners of these animals hunt them in return.
I took the picture with my cell phone to remind me that all of us are responsible for climate change. I am responsible for the death of this magnificent creature. And, corporately with the entire world, we are responsible for changes in this Earth this make species extinct before their time. I want to see polar bears live before they are gone from the north and live only in zoos. I want to see our black bears survive in this habitat.
My prayer is that I be made more conscious of my impact on the world and our climate so that others may live.