During one particularly wintry day, I took my bearskin coat out of the closet and wore it to work, along with my Mohawk silver-fox cap (including tail) and rabbit-skin mittens. When I walked into the office, there was much merriment (and some flat-out jealousy, if truth be known). I remarked that the bear was killed in 1916 or early 1917, one of the last things Uncle Wal did before joining General Pershing’s staff on our entry into WWI.
Digression: Pershing was a tall man and hated standing out for his height. He liked to surround himself with staff equally tall. Or maybe he felt that on a battlefield he made too tempting a target. Uncle Wal was 6’4″.
One co-worker. however, sniffed disdainfully and lamented that a “noble animal had died to make someone a fur coat”.
I explained that the bear was not killed to provide a fur coat. It was tracked down and killed because it was preying on livestock, killing the calves. Once a predator discovers how easy it is to dine on livestock, it won’t go back to roots, berries and bunnies. Farms and ranches become its McDonalds. This is not to be tolerated by ranchers, as they would soon be without herd and livelihood. The predator must be killed.
She wouldn’t accept that reality, insisting it could have been ‘tranquilized and relocated’.
I pointed out that:
1) Tranquilizers guns/darts did not exist until the 1950s’ Duh!
2) While there are live-traps for young bears, there are only deadfall (thus fatal) traps or huge jaw-traps (maiming) for adult bears.
3) Even if by some miracle the bear was captured safe and alive, relocation was impractical to impossible. One could not transport the bear to any area suitable for its survival but without livestock or to any area within another bear’s territory. That ruled out most of North America.
I also noted that the ranch dined on bear meat and the coat was made for Aunt Mabel.
“You ate the bear?” Incredulous.
“Not me, but my aunt and uncles. Why let it go to waste?”
“Ugh!” And a shudder.
“You’re a vegetarian?”
“Of course not!”
“Then it’s okay to kill an animal who did no harm, just for your burgers but it’s not okay to kill an animal that is killing your livestock. Ooookaaay! Or is it the fur coat you’re objecting to? You’re wearing leather shoes. Shame on you!”
She finally shut up.