Investigators for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a WSPA member society, recently attended several bear baying competitions in South Carolina. What they found is shocking. In each event, a captive bear – with its claws and many teeth cut down or removed – was tethered in an arena. Teams after teams of dogs were then released into the arena to bark at and jump on the frightened, defenseless bear for hours at a time.
Many WSPA supporters have asked us the question: “What is the difference between bear baying and bear baiting?” According to our wildlife adviser and bear expert Victor Watkins, the two “sports” are very similar; however there are subtle differences between them:
“Bear baiting” takes place in Pakistan and is solely a form of entertainment. During bear baiting events, dogs try to pull down a bear (whose claws and teeth are cut down or removed) by biting at its muzzle and flanks. This is a "sport" to see if the bear can keep the dogs away or if the dogs can bring the bear to the floor. It allows for much physical contact, leaving both the bears and the dogs injured. Bear baiting is against the law in Pakistan, although illegal events still take place. WSPA has worked on this issue for several years and plans to continue our work until the practice is eradicated.
“Bear baying” takes place outside of Pakistan and is touted as a method used to train hunting dogs. Similar to bear baiting, bear baying uses a captive bear whose claws and teeth are cut down or removed. The bear is tethered in an arena and used to train dogs on how to keep a bear “at bay” during hunting (typically, by barking and chasing it.) As part of the training, the dogs may bite the bear, but it is not as frequent or severe as in bear baiting. South Carolina is the only US state in which bear baying is legal – and, while it is slightly less violent in nature than bear baiting, it is an equally inhumane practice.
WSPA and many of its supporters have joined the HSUS in contacting the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to voice our opposition on bear baying. We understand that many people are now having trouble getting through to the department due to the sheer volume of calls, but please don’t give up! And if you have any other questions about the HSUS investigation or what you can do to help, please contact the organization directly at http://www.humanesociety.org/about/contact/.
Image of bear baiting (c)WSPA