People, Pit Bulls and Bruins! Oh My!
There has been so much in the news about black bear and Pit Bull dog attacks in Metro Vancouver, the last few weeks. Thoughts on both bear and dog been polarized. Save them! Kill them! Co-exist with them? It's a people problem, not a bear or Pit Bull problem? What is the answer to the animal vs. human woes? The following article, addressing Pit Bulls, is the best one I have seen of late. A letter to the editor from a local resident, about bears, follows. An excerpt:
...The pit bull is a dangerous dog, with safe substitutes. The vicious attack by a pack of pit bulls in Surrey last week is only the latest example of a pattern of violence that has led many other governments, including Ontario in 2004 and Manitoba in 1990, to ban pit bulls. It's time for our province to do the same.
Let's start with a few facts. The pit bull is descended from the now-extinct English bulldogge, used in packs to tear apart bulls for the pleasure of a crowd. Trainers discovered they could create a tough and fearless dog by crossbreeding the bulldogge with breeds known for their "gameness," or courage. These crossbreeds -- strong, aggressive, and relentless -- were ideal for dogfights, often held in pits. No wonder, then, pit bulls are so good at killing other dogs.
Generations of selective breeding have given the pit bull a fearsome physiology. Their shoulder and neck muscles bulge like a body-builder's. With each snap of their jaws, they exert 1,200 pounds of pressure per square inch, 10 times the force exerted by a German Shepherd, Doberman or Rottweiler. That's enough to snap bones, puncture abdomens and rip limbs off.
As scary as this sounds, it gets worse. Unlike other dogs, pit bulls often don't growl or bark before attacking. When they do attack, they're almost impossible to stop.
In the incident that prompted Ontario's ban, a pit bull continued to attack a woman even while a man repeatedly hit it over the head with a hockey stick.
This single-mindedness leads to comparisons between pit bulls and sharks; that, and the way pit bulls bite and shake their jaws from side to side, instead of biting and holding, as other dogs do. Their goal is not to restrain, but to injure...
Bears, on the other hand --- an irate writer gives his point of view:
The land mass of this vast province is roughly 90 per cent or more forested wilderness.
With this in mind, I am growing increasingly tired of hearing that problem bears in our neighbourhoods are the fault of humans who have "invaded" the bruins' territory.
My neighbourhood, Edgemont Village, has existed for more than 60 years. I doubt any bears alive today are that old.
It is obvious that it is an overabundance of black bears that is pushing them out of their natural habitat and into urban areas where they no longer fear human activity.
Fewer bears are being destroyed, which some may celebrate, but bear-human conflicts are increasing.
Urban residents should not have to co-exist with 300-pound wild animals and be prisoners in their homes.
We should have the right to enjoy our properties, to have fruit trees, to plant a vegetable garden or to have a barbecue -- or even to leave a back door open on a hot day.
Of course we should try to reduce bear attractants, but 100-per-cent compliance is impossible.
Let's stop pretending that by making people "bear aware," this worsening problem will go away.
We should not accept, as some conservation officers are now saying, that our neighbourhoods are "bear territory."
This naive acceptance of bears is a recipe for further attacks on people and, inevitably, a human tragedy.
The most recent invasion of "bruin territory" I know of has been that of extreme outdoor activities pushing higher up into our wild places. We do not need to clear cut an area, nor build roads and houses in order to "invade" wildlife territory. Everybody and their dogs are heading into the wilderness on foot or on wheels, etc. This has been especially evident in the last 10 to 15 years, when we have also seen an influx of bears coming into residential areas. A bear problem? A Pit Bull problem? Or a people problem? I think the answer is pretty clear.