A man from Ulster County, New York, has been ticketed for bear baiting after a pile of noodles was found on a road near the town of Saugerties.
Officers from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) responded to a report from a member of the public, who said a hunter was using food to attract animals. As local news site Patch reports, they found the hunter in question just 75 yards away from a suspiciously placed pile of noodles.
The hunter claimed the noodles were his lunch, but he was ticketed for hunting bears with pre-established bait and failing to wear a back tag. Numbered back tags must be visibly placed in the middle of a hunter's back, except in the Northern Zone and Catskill Park, and are used by the DEC to identify hunters who may be committing an offence.
Hunting big game using bait isn't illegal in all states, but it is in New York. According to state law, laid out in the DEC's Guide to Hunting and Trapping, "intentional feeding or baiting of deer or bear is prohibited at all times of year. This includes use of mineral blocks or powders. Exempt activities include agricultural plantings, wildlife food plots, and cutting of trees or brush to provide winter forage."
Opinion varies, but some hunters see shooting animals over bait as not sporting, or even boring. It can also present environmental problems. For example, baiting or otherwise feeding animals disturbs their natural behavior, and can cause food conditioning and habituation.
Food conditioned animals may ignore their natural food sources, instead returning to a place where they have found food provided by humans in the past and making themselves easier targets. Habituated animals lose their natural wariness of humans, and are likely to approach people and settlements. This increases the chance of a dangerous close encounter, and often results in bears being euthanized for public safety.
Spoiled bait left in the open can also pose an environmental hazard, and some commonly used baits (such as chocolate) contain chemicals that are toxic to many animals.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.