Causes leader Ian McIntyre remembers feeling disgust the first time he heard about bear-baiting, an exercise used to train hunting dogs to keep bears at bay. Feeling a tremendous urge to do something, Ian created a petition on Causes.com to end bear-baiting in South Carolina — a state where public bear-baiting events are organized by organizations like the United Kennel Club. Ian’s petition has built a lot of momentum: 57,000 people (as of this posting) have signed his petition. We spoke to him this week about the progress of his campaign and what the next steps will be.Ian disclosed some distressing facts to us about the type of bear-baiting he’s fighting: it includes the declawing and defanging of a bear, tying it up to a stake in the ground, and allowing hunting dogs to bite at it. Apparently, this awful exercise teaches the hunting dogs to keep bears corralled and at bay. Ian, who resides in Oslo, Norway and is from South Africa, told us he was surprised that a state in the U.S. would openly allow something like this to take place. “It was quite a shock to me because I’d heard about it, but I didn’t think it was taking place [in South Carolina].” The Humane Society has been monitoring bear-baiting for many years and distributed a call to action in 2010 against South Carolina after undercover video was shot at a public bear-baiting event (seen here).
Ian has built a large coalition of members through his cause and told me he believes that anyone with some knowledge, passion, and a good work ethic can make a difference. “I’m just an average person working a 9-5 job and I just think animals that are defenseless and prone to this need someone to stand up for them.”
Currently, Ian’s petition asks for Nikki Haley, South Carolina Governor and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to pass legislation introduced in 2010 that would make bear baiting illegal. He hopes to contact local newspapers in South Carolina, the governor’s office, and additional animal rights organizations to help raise more awareness. If you want to help, feel free to leave a note in the comments section below or on the petition page.
Can he hit 100,000 signatures? We’ll keep you posted.