COLUMBIA, S.C. August 23 — An undercover investigation by the Humane Society has caught on tape the horrific scenes of a practice called bear baying currently conducted solely in the state of South Carolina. Bear baying, also known as bear baiting, is an event where a captive black bear is chained to a stake in an enclosed area, and is then set upon consecutively by packs of hunting dogs.
Prior to the encounter, which can last up to 4 hours, the bear’s claws and some of its teeth are removed, rendering the animal defenseless. The goal of the bear baying is to have the dogs cause the bear to rear up on its hind legs. Hunters claim this practice is intended to train the dogs to hunt bear, since when a bear is on its hind legs, its belly and vital organs are exposed to the aim of a hunter’s gun. However, as seen in the undercover video, bear baying is treated more like a sport in South Carolina, where dozens of spectators including children, line up to watch the spectacle.
“It’s inexcusable to stake a defanged, declawed, defenseless bear and offer the poor creature up as a living piñata for dogs to attack,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society. “The people of South Carolina will be outraged to know that there are people still staging these spectacles in the state.”
The specific bear baying events caught on tape by the Humane Society were organized by the American Plott Association and the National Plott Hound Association, groups that according to the Humane Society, are affiliated with the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club.
Engraving of a bear baying contest in the 17th century.
Bear baying in South Carolina is similar to animal blood sport competitions staged in the 16th and 17th centuries. These practices are now rarely permitted anywhere in the world, except for Pakistan (and South Carolina).
Although South Carolina permits the practice because it is claimed to be for dog “training” purposes, in other states, a mechanical or taxidermied bear is used to train hunting dogs. The only state in America that openly allows this practice to occur is South Carolina.