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Stop exploiting animals for human entertainment

An April 17 letter writer took issue with The News’ use of “bear baiting” as another example of cruelty to animals, alongside dog and cock fighting. He urges a little research before editorializing – so here’s some research.

The News editorial was not a veiled attack on a form of baiting free-roaming animals in the wild to draw them closer to the hunter. The News was referring to a blood sport once common in Europe, outlawed in Britain in 1835, that was very much like dog and cock fighting. The practice continues in the 21st century in some parts of the world. See the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources website on bear baying and baiting for its statement that it is not considered a “legitimate field trial” and that permits will not be issued for it.

In bear baiting, a bear is chained to a stake in a pit or other enclosed area and dogs are released to attack it. Some of the bears and some of the dogs survive to fight another day, others are killed in the ring. William Shakespeare referred to bear baiting, and no wonder since the spectacles were held near London’s Globe Theater where his plays were performed. Sixteenth-century maps show bull baiting rings next to the bear baiting ones.

The News was entirely correct that the viciousness of blood sports should end and that the resurgence of dog fighting in the area needs serious and immediate attention. Bear and bull baiting and dog and cock fighting set animals to attack one another for the amusement and profit of humans. In the end, this only dehumanizes us.

Claire S. Schen

Buffalo