Bears have very little in peace in Vermont. The hound training season starts on June 1st and runs all summer through Sept 15th. Then, the official bear hunting season starts on Sept 1st, including the use of hounds, and runs right through the end of November, right before the bears enter their winter dens. Bears have just about a month and a half on our landscapes (when they aren't "hibernating") where they can live unharassed by hunters.
Vulnerable bear cubs are separated from their mothers during these chases that start on June 1st. June is a very lean month for bears as they have not been able to recover from their long winter slumber. Bears lose vital fat reserves and calories when they are chased through the woods all in the name of "recreation." Bears are also at great risk of hyperthermia, which is a real threat during the high heat of summer when they are run for miles by hounds. Vermont hounders have bragged about their hounds chasing a lone bear for six hours until the exhausted animal gave up. Other evidence collected by Protect Our Wildlife depicts bear hound hunters sharing that mother bears turned to fight the hounds while trying to protect cubs. One bear hunter's hounds suffered injuries from a bear and instead of bringing the hound to the vet, the hounder stapled the wound himself. This happens way more than we'll ever know. The practice is abusive to both wildlife and the dogs that are used as weapons.
Vermont hounders have bragged about their hounds chasing a lone bear for six hours until the exhausted animal gave up.
In the 2020 legislative session, Senator Bray introduced legislation that sought to shorten the bear hound training season from June 1st to Sept that would have allowed bears time to tend to their cubs and put on weight, but that was fought by Vermont Fish & Wildlife, the very agency that is supposed to be "protecting" bears. Sadly, it seems that they're more interested in protecting special interests, including the Vermont Bear Hound Association. Even the VT Fish & Wildlife bear biologist, Forrest Hammond, acknowledged that the bear hound training season is too long, but when asked for his support to shorten the season, he sided with the bear hound hunters.
TALKING POINTS ON BEAR HOUNDING
Hounding orphans cubs; those under a year old will likely die from slow starvation and predation. Hunters frequently fail to check for the presence of dependent young in a nearby tree, which could alert them that they are pursuing a mother bear. Biologists have also found that hunters misidentify the gender of approximately one-third of treed bears. And in some pursuits, hounds confront bears while they are on the ground; in the melee, hunters may not take the time to try to determine the bear’s gender before shooting.
Especially during hot weather, pursuit stresses both hounds and bears. Bears who have been chased for a prolonged period can experience severe physical stress due to their thick fur and fat layer, which they build to survive during hibernation. Overheated bears can die and pregnant bears can lose embryos.
Altercations with hounds can result in injuries or death to bears, particularly cubs. In turn, hounds mauled by bears can suffer broken bones, punctured lungs or other serious injuries. Hounds may chase bears into roadways, where oncoming vehicles could strike either animal. Hounds are frequently dumped at municipal animal shelters or left in the woods if they do not perform adequately.
Because hounds track bears across large spaces, they invariably pursue and stress non-target animals including deer, moose, small mammals and ground nesting birds.
IN THE PRESS
Read about bear hounds in Ripton VT that attacked a couple and their puppy who were hiking on state land:
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A VT BEAR HOUND HUNTER'S DOGS CHASED A BEAR FOR SIX HOURS UNTIL THE BEAR RAN ONTO ROUTE 302.⬇︎
VT BEARS CHASED BY BEAR HOUNDS