Fozzie and I had an Appointment

Sitting in a tree stand with a Kermit the Frog doll is not what I would call a normal day for me. The trail cameras set up on the bear bait indicated that a cinnamon colored bear had been coming to feed at about 8:30 pm. With this information I set myself in the tree stand at about 5pm, giving me and the bear plenty of time in either direction. When I showed the pictures of the cinnamon bear to my kids they started calling the boar “Fozzie”. The boar was the same color as the Muppet character.

When I climbed into the stand I noticed a green arm sticking out of my backpack. I investigated and found a 14 inch green doll. So there we were, Kermit and I, hunting a cinnamon bear my boys nicknamed Fozzie; silently waiting for a bear to saunter into the bait about thirty yards in front of me.  The humor did not escape me.

One rule aboutIdahobear hunting that I have a little trouble with is that the wonton waist laws do not apply to the bear meat. Essentially, a hunter can shoot a bear and then leave everything but the skull and hide behind. The meat will be eaten by other creatures, surly, but the whole notion of killing and not eating a big game animal is a tough pill to swallow.

I asked Craig White, a biologist with Idaho Fish and Game, to explain the law and he said “It is a decision made by the commission. Bear meat isn’t required to be salvaged. The rule has gone back and forth over the years. We have let the rule become more liberal to help reduce the population. Bear are not a species that most want to eat, it is a predator…Also, some areas are very difficult to get in and out of. So we don’t ask the hunters to pull the meat out that they might not eat anyway.”

White added “We encourage animals to be used to the fullest extent. We require the bear hide and skull to be removed. They are often used as an educational tool. Black bears are an awesome species to view but we need to control them so we can have elk as well. In most areas we are meeting our goals and objectives.”

Bear meat also has a few problems of its own according to naturalist and author Steven Rinella. He notes that bears tend to have this little problem with trichinosis, the disease that until this year the FDA thought pigs would give you so they asked that you cook your pork to well done. Rinella notes that “In Montana’sLincolnand Sanders Counties 100% of the bears tested over six years of age have tested positive for the parasite.” The bears get the disease by eating trash that contains the round worm Trichina Spiralis.

Rinella added in an article posted to that “Nowadays, over 90% ofU.S.trichinosis cases are attributable to bear meat.” While Rinella notes the potential dangers of bear meat he concluded his article with advice on cooking bear meat.  The best way to deal with the trichinosis problem in bears is to cook the meat past 137 degrees. This almost assuredly will kill the bug and any chance you have of contacting it. “Remember” Rinella wrote “You killed it, you eat it.”

For me bait hunting bear is an exercise in patience, listening for the cracking of sticks that indicate something walking into the bait. Keeping awake is the hardest part. But off in the distance I could hear a shuffle and my eyes caught a streak of cinnamon making its way through the brush. Excuse me, I think Kermit and I have some work to do…

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