A wildlife expert is blaming an unprovoked bear attack, that resulted in severe injuries to a woman walking her dog in Washington state, on “woke” politics.
“Public safety is no longer a priority in Olympia, it seems,” Tom Nelson, who hosts The Outdoor Line on ESPN Radio, told KIRO Monday.
At issue was a black bear attack over the weekend in a residential area of Leavenworth, Washington, where a 68-year-old woman walking her dog sustained “significant injuries” and was hospitalized.
The woman’s terrifying fight with the bear lasted roughly 15 seconds, with the woman punching the animal several times before it finally ran off. Wildlife officials then used a Karelian bear dog to track the animal. The bear was located later that morning with two cubs, with officials capturing the cubs and killing the adult female bear.
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Nelson believes the situation was preventable, but argued state officials have prioritized a “touchy-feely, nonsensical woke wildlife management” that is “putting the public at risk.”
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“This is a complete tragedy on both sides. Nobody wins,” Nelson said. “Encounters like this… are avoidable.”
Nelson noted that fall is the time of year that bears “pack on as much as they can because they’re coming into hibernation.”
“Their feeding drive is at a premium,” Nelson said. “Unfortunately, the lady got between a sow and her cubs, and that provoked the protective response.”
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However, Nelson argued that bears typically would not be desperate enough to enter residential areas near parks and risk encounters with humans if they were not desperate, something brought on by the state “making political decisions about biological situations for political considerations.”
Nelson pointed out that state officials restricted the spring bear hunting season and passed laws that made it more difficult to hunt bears during the normal season. The result has been a steady increase in the population of bears, increasing the risks of similar negative human interactions with the animals.
One of those rules the state passed to make hunting bears more difficult was banning the use of dogs to pursue bears. Nelson noted that state officials are still able to use dogs to track bears involved in attacks, including the one over the weekend.
“All they’ve done with regard to hounds is privatize this,” Nelson said. “Before, you had hunters that loved their dogs. It’s amazingly difficult to hunt [bears] without the help of our four-footed friends.”
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“So, now, we as taxpayers have to pay for this activity rather than have the hunter – who is buying tags and licenses – providing money for the state.”
Reached for comment by Fox News, a spokesperson for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife stressed that such interactions “are rare in Washington state as black bears tend to avoid humans.”
The spokesperson added that some bears have become “human-habituated” or “human-food-conditioned” and can “become aggressive in their pursuit of a meal” in populated or semi-populated areas, something the agency has attempted to address by educating the population on coexisting with the animals.
“Public safety is our priority; our officers and staff were quick to mobilize to locate the animal in this incident and secure the scene as we have a responsibility to our communities, it’s an unfortunate circumstance and never the outcome we want,” the spokesperson said .