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South Carolina: Bear-Baiting in the 21st Century

This writer is passionate about the issues of animal welfare and animal cruelty, as well as environmental protection in general.

Associated Press image

Associated Press image

I have written a fair amount online regarding animal welfare and animal cruelty. It has mainly been about dogs in the UK and animal issues in China. I know that sadly crimes against animals are far too prevalent in all countries around the world. However, I was appalled to see a report on UK television news about bear-baiting in the United States, of all places.

The UK was guilty of bear-baiting, but it was outlawed here in the early 1800s. No doubt rogue bear-baiting continued for some time but it would still have vanished ages ago. America is a great country, but like everywhere in the world, it has its problems. Bear-baiting should not still be one of them.

The news reports claimed that bear hunters are partially responsible for this "sport" or "training regime". This treatment of bears is still legal in the state of South Carolina. It appears that bear hunters are using "bear-baying" as they call it to train their dogs to hunt bears. The bears have their teeth and claws removed before being chained to the spot.

Packs of dogs were seen in one video trying to attack the bear's legs so that it stood on its back legs. With no fangs, teeth or claws the bear is pretty defenceless. It must also be terrified of the dogs. Of course, a bear is a powerful creature and it will pack a mean punch. As the bear is tethered though its movements are limited.

The Humane Society of the United States of America has stepped in to fight for the bears. As their representative John Goodwin has said:

"'Bear baiting' events can have up to one hundred dogs attacking a defenseless bear. "One pack after another. The bear gets no relief, no break to get some water and this goes on to up to four hours."

The Humane Society report reads:

"A black bear cowers in the corner of a pen in rural South Carolina. She is tethered to a stake, surrounded by hundreds of onlookers. She is foaming at the mouth and popping her jaws, behavior that means she is terrified. Her captors have cut or removed her claws and many of her teeth, leaving her defenseless.

Three hounds run at the bear from one end of the arena, barking furiously. Some of them bite her face and legs. Others jump on her. She backs up on her hind legs, trying vainly to shield her face. The assault continues for four hours, as nearly 300 dogs attack her in quick succession. This spectacle is a bear baiting competition, called a "bear bay" by participants, and is practiced only in South Carolina. It is similar to the archaic blood sport of bear baiting."

I was saddened to read that although dogfighting is banned in the States the bears have no such protection. Permits to own bears for such events are issued by The Department of Natural Resources. These permits have been longstanding and it has been claimed that new permits will not be issued.

Unless there is firm legislation against such practices though that statement offers no help to the bears involved.

Watch the videos and look at the images. Can this be acceptable behaviour? I think not. Make sure that if you agree you sign any petitions and lobby those in power.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2010 Ethel Smith


Annon on March 11, 2020:

America, Gods country! A place where Trump thinks he's God. A country full of guns, and too many idiots who own them. No animal rights or RSPCA equivalent. Nothing more needs to be said.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 07, 2013:

It is dreadful. I wrote it some time ago and I do not think much has changed

moll on February 27, 2013:

what a disgusting cruel and barbaric form of what people call entertainment can't think of any printable words to explain what low life they are

Rita De Ferrary on February 27, 2013:

America and the laws it doesn't have to protect animals is a barbaric place for animals. America is actually hell on this earth for animals, those domesticated and bred by the billions for food, kept in appalling conditions from birth till death, and they suffer in agony for the dairy and beef industries, the chicken and pigs are literally abused and tortured. There is no way around sugar coating this. Their deaths are brutal and barbaric. Most practices such as bear baiting are committed by half wits, inbred humans barely educated, they then pass their brutal way of life onto their by large inbred progeny. If they as a human species see nothing wrong with this then the federal government needs to step in with laws that supersede states law reach. Most law enforcement in these states are no better than the perpetrators themselves. South Carolina is a tourist state, and a producer state, and I see NO reason why they shouldn't be boycotted until this cruel and useless and brutal activity stops.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on December 19, 2012:

That is what I feel.They are morons I guess.

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on December 17, 2012:

What a horrible form of entertainment. In some ways people have not evolved since Roman times when they would do stuff like this to animals for entertainment.

elainec33 on March 12, 2012:

Hi Ethel,

you may have noticed there is a petition in that link that I posted and hopefully you are in a position to promote this. We are trying to get more people involved on Facebook. The latter social network site can be a minefield and a bit of a nightmare, but on the positive side, many things have been achieved through the sheer numbers of people forcing issues, just an example was the dismissal of a security guard who beat two puppies badly, one to death, but the hospital admin and staff were reluctant to do anything about it until they were bombarded with emails and phone calls from us, Ioannina,Greece in that particular instance. Thanks for all the information and please keep it circulating.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 12, 2012:

Yes when I looked online recently it was still ongoing. Mankind's torture of animals seems to know no limits. Shame on us.

elainec33 on March 10, 2012:

Further to my last comment, sadly, it is still ongoing http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/clickToGive/cam...

elainec33 on March 10, 2012:

I was talking to a friend today who had a market stall for Animals Asia Support Group, and the bear baiting of course came up in discussion and she mentioned about reading this was going on in the U.S. I am wondering if you have any updates on this in S.C. at least, as I see the comments were made about 18 months ago.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on September 05, 2010:

Yes I guess they do Tony. I could not sleep at night, could you?

Tony McGregor from South Africa on September 04, 2010:

Unbelievable! Just should not happen anywhere. Such behaviour makes me question the humanity of those who promote it. But I guess they go home, cuddle their children and make love to their wives after?

Thanks for raising this issue.

Love and peace


Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on August 30, 2010:

Habee for some reason your first comment showed as spam. Do not worry it is there now and thanks for taking the time. Animal welafre, or the lack of it, around the world is very disheartening.

Holle Abee from Georgia on August 27, 2010:

My God, I can't believe this is happening in a state that borders mine!! Cock fighting is still legal in Louisiana, too. It sickens me and makes me mad as hell!

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on August 26, 2010:

Thank you for your comments Martin. I think your comments describe the situation perfectly. It is truly dreadful

martin sampson, UK. on August 26, 2010:

i looked on in horror to see this terrified animal being baited in this way, giving savage imagery to our barbaric instincts. a profound sadness is hanging over me still. i am moved to comment, and helpless to stop this sort of practice, wether in pakistan or the US or russia. we have obviously been left as infants in control of this delicate planet, while god has left via the back door.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on August 25, 2010:

Lily that is a fine statement.

I agree with you hh. At least man has some choices.

It breaks my heart to see such cruelty

Hello, hello, from London, UK on August 25, 2010:

Has humans never ever moved on. Is cruelty to animals our one and only entertainment? Such a mentallity. The same a bullfighting. They murder slowly and I mean slowly the poor beast. Same as dog fighting. What kind of mind enjoys watching dogs biting each other and mostly to death. Same as cock fighting. Their mentality must be at ground level. Why not box or watching boxing, wrestling and kick boxing if they enjoy all these things.

Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on August 24, 2010:

"Man did not weave the web of life, he is but a strand in it. What ever he does to the web, he does to himself" attributed and unattributed to Chief Seattle

DoItForHer on August 24, 2010:

I imagine much of that bear baying is done with the excuse of training the dogs. What is shown in the second video is not training to hunt bears, but training to kill weakened, injured, restrained bears. Should those dogs go up against a healthy, full-sized bear, they would be in for a big surprise.

Training dogs to hunt bears is fine, but using a pack of dogs to actually take down the bear is ludicrous. If one is using dogs to hunt, the dogs are used to pin the bear down, or to tree it. Then the hunter takes the bear down with a well-placed shot. Then the bear is used for food, leather, etc. The potential injury to the dogs is lessened as well.

Using the hunting methods the dogs are being trained for in the video, what leather artisan would want the skin of a bear that is torn to pieces? Who would want to eat a bear that had been tormented to exhaustion before it died? The taste would be atrocious! It is unnecessary and harmful to both the bear and the dogs to train those dogs to actually attack the bear in order to restrain it for a kill.

Hard to believe that is still legal in South Carolina.

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