Letter to the Editor: Sensational bear stories do no good | SierraSun.com

Letter to the Editor: Sensational bear stories do no good

In the recent RGJ article “Man attacked by bear while walking dogs (Colorado),” the reporter asserted that “The man, by all accounts, (is) lucky to be alive.”

This is groundless fear mongering, something the media uses instead of proper reporting. And, sadly, something that our various wildlife agencies — state and federal — encourage. The truth is far less sensational and far less likely to garner taxpayers’ money.

If that bear had intended to kill the man, he’d be dead. But black bears are not aggressive by their very nature, and fatal attacks are far more rare than the media admits. And more than 90 percent of those attacks are in the woodlands where the human has intruded on the bear’s habitat.

An American is 74 million times more likely to die by any other cause than a black bear attack near an urban center, 3,000 times more likely to be shot by a hunter and 270 times more likely to be killed by a hunter. So far in 2013 as many Americans have been killed by beavers as black bears, 35 times as many by deer, 75 times as many by lightning strikes and 10 times more killed by horses.

Given those statistics, why do our wildlife agencies promote sensationalism? Simple economics. A major portion of their funding is provided for “public safety,” and there’s only a safety issue if the public is convinced of some threat.

What’s more threatening than the image of a vicious bear ready to eat you at any moment? But that image is a fraud perpetuated by our various wildlife agencies and cooped by the media. Wildlife services are desperate for funding, and there’s always money for public safety. And, before you hunters start writing letters saying that you pay for wildlife management, I’ll point out that less than 30 percent of the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s budget is paid by fees (hunting, fishing and boating). The rest is taxpayer money.

Mark Smith

Incline Village

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