For nearly two centuries, Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has waged a war on black bears, subsidizing the slaughter of hundreds of these animals in Canada and using their pelts to make headpieces for The Queen's Guards.
Bears are cruelly killed for their hides; they are either shot during hunts or ensnared, sometimes for days, in painful traps. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources reports that during hunts, as many as one bear in seven is not killed immediately after being shot, and some escape wounded, often dying later from blood loss, gangrene, or starvation.
Mother bears who are killed leave behind orphaned cubs who are completely dependent on them for food during their first 17 months. When left alone in the wilderness, the cubs often cannot survive. In many areas, there are few restrictions against shooting mother bears with nursing cubs, leading to the destruction of entire families.
It is common for bears to be hunted at bait sites. Food is left regularly for hungry bears so that they will become accustomed to going to the same spot to find food. Hunters then hide in tree stands and shoot at the bears who come looking for their regular meal.
Although the MoD has acknowledged that it is time for a change, it has delayed taking any action. It is inexcusable that the same army which is capable of building some of the most sophisticated equipment and machinery in the world claims it is unable to find a synthetic replacement for bearskins after almost three decades of "searching" and despite the wide availability of luxurious synthetic materials. Meanwhile, it is money from buyers such as the British Army that keeps hunters making profits from killing these animals. Bears aren't crops to be "harvested"; they are individuals who live in families and feel pain and terror when shot.
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