25 August 2010

HSUS investigation reveals details of abusive ‘bear baiting’ competitions in South Carolina

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has released the results of an undercover investigation conducted in South Carolina that sheds a revealing light on a “competition” called bear baiting, the practice is so cruel and disgusting that most parts of the world started outlawing the contests during the 19th century.

According to the HSUS:
At bear baiting contests, which participants call "bear bays," a captive bear is tethered to a stake in an enclosed area, then set upon with packs of dogs for the entertainment of cheering spectators. HSUS undercover investigators attended four events, held in Spartanburg, Hickory Grove and Travelers Rest, S.C., at which the captive bear's claws and some of her teeth had been cut, rendering the animal defenseless. The bear — believed to be the same bear, a 15-year-old female, at all four events — was tied to a stake in a fenced area and attacked by up to three dogs at a time for several hours.
"It's inexcusable to stake a defanged, declawed, defenseless bear and offer the poor creature up as a living piñata for dogs to attack," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "The people of South Carolina will be outraged to know that there are people still staging these spectacles in the state."

South Carolina apparently is a little behind the times as it is the lone state that allows the competitions (only Pakistan permits this ridiculous practice worldwide). Bear baiting was even challenged by anti-cruelty advocates during the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe—hopefully jousting to the death is no longer sanctioned in the Palmetto State any longer.

And although the practice is permitted, there are still a few rules—allegedly. The state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does have oversight authority over captive bears. For one, those who have permits to hold bears for the baiting competitions—8 total bears statewide— are explicitly told not to allow repeated contact between the dogs and bear during a single event. The HSUS investigation shows this stipulation was not enforced as “numerous” instances of dogs biting and then subsequently jumping on a bear were witnessed and filmed.

Obviously the Humane Society did contact the South Carolina DNR during the course of their investigation but no action was taken by the agency. Are you surprised?

Well here’s the part that may surprise some of you (but definitely not all):

The bear baiting events investigated by The HSUS were organized by the American Plott Association and the National Plott Hound Association, groups affiliated with the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club. The HSUS has called on the AKC and UKC to intervene and stop these exhibitions.

Yeah, AKC “intervening” might be a good idea, the same advice goes out to the good people of South Carolina. Stop these insane competitions, the sooner the better.

Photo Credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/ndomer73