Dear Editor,

This letter is in regard to a miscarriage of justice to Ted Burns over killing a bear on his property. Before Mr. Burns killed this bear, the officials of this county and the state of Oklahoma claimed there were no bears this far north in Oklahoma, in spite of game cameras that show images of what appears to be bears and some long-tail cats. Those "officials" claimed the images were of big dogs or domestic cats at different distances from the camera. Even though people who live, hunt, fish and play on the Canadian River have found tracks of big cats for many years. Well, now I supposed those "officials" will have to admit bears and, as likely as not, long-tail cats are also in our area.

Now to the gesture of this letter. Mr. Burns shot this bear in fear of his livestock and the fear of his grandchildren's well-being. He stated something had gotten into his feed and things on his porch were in disarray from some days prior to seeing the bear. Mr. Burns had no idea that a bear had been responsible for the damage, or the livestock he had missing, until he saw the bear. One could surmise that the bear had been there before, was there now, and would be back again! It could be thought by reasonable thinking at that moment in time, the bear had been responsible for these misdeeds and a fear of an attack on his family and livestock might be imminent.

Mr. Burns admits to killing the bear and tried to do the right thing by reporting the incident to the authorities without delay. For his trouble, he was interrogated, investigated, summoned to court, fined and embarrassed by something that should have been handled by admonishment rather than fines and threats. Very few of us who live, hunt, fish and play on that river knew you could NOT protect your property, livestock or loved ones from predators such as this without repercussion and persecution. These bears are not on an endangered species list, or are they?! One of the fines that was imposed on Mr. Burns was shooting a bear out of season. My question is, how can you be fined for shooting a bear out of season when supposedly there is no season in this county, and there are no bears this far north? Mr. Burns did not shoot this bear for sport, fame, meat or hide. He did it only to protect his family, his livestock and his property. Now Mr. Burns is faced with a stiff fine, threats against his lifetime license and confiscation of firearms, just because he tried to do the right thing. Most likely some or THE biologist and others who instigated, and insisted upon this unjust penalty, to make an example of Mr. Burns, have a very nice bearskin rug and are eating bear meat (which I understand is very good) at Mr. Burns' expense.

So, in closing, let me say to anyone who may fall into this same situation, the truth and doing the right thing shall NOT set you free, under rules no one knows who made  up, and most do not know exist. So if something like this happens to you, remember the three monkeys: I see nothing, I know nothing, I say nothing. Silence is most assuredly golden under similar circumstances in the future? Think about it.

Jim Haley