Letter to the editor: Just say dogs can't attack humans, ever
Senator Chris Bray’s legislative bill to control bear hounds shows he has no understanding of what hunting with hounds entails. The hounds go where the bear goes, the houndsmen have no ability to control where the bear takes the hounds, regardless of property lines or no hunting signs.
Furthermore, it is impossible to limit the distance between the hounds and the houndsmen. The houndsmen do their best to keep up with the hounds but it is usually impossible to do so when the hounds are in hot pursuit. It is totally impossible for the houndsmen to keep the hounds in sight because the bear runs up and over mountains in densely foliated habitat.
The only way in which hounds can be controlled to a certain distance from the houndsman would be to keep them on leash, but you can’t catch a bear with dogs walked on leashes.
You could rule that bears can only be hunted with hounds in vast tracts of forest such as National Forests or large tracts of industrial woodlands, but that would eliminate the chance to hunt “nuisance bears,” which typically live near human habitation and are the individual bears most people would prefer to have hunted. But the hounds that frightened the Ripton couple were running within the National Forest, so such a law would not have prevented that incident.
It makes more sense to legislate that dogs must never attack humans, no matter where they are, or what kind of dogs they are, and make the dog owner responsible for any injury they cause. The only other way to eliminate the possibility that a bear hound might ever frighten a hiker would be to ban bear hunting with hounds altogether, which I suspect may be the underlying intent of the hikers’ complaint.
Jerome B. Robinson