Two wild black bears in Asheville, North Carolina, have been found with Trump 2020 campaign stickers.
Sheila Chapman, of Asheville, told News 13 that she saw a Trump 2020 sticker on the collar of the bear that stopped on her front porch on July 31.
Less than a year earlier, in September 2019, another local resident sent a photo of a black bear on his deck, sporting what he said was a Trump sticker on its tracking collar to the Citizen-Times.
Help Asheville Bears (HAB) non profit said the two bears were different, based on the fact that the stickers were angled differently on the collars.
The organization is now offering a reward for information about who put the stickers on the bears.
That sentiment is echoed by the activist group, which wrote on Facebook on July 31 that ‘Bears are NOT Billboards!’
The group posted Chapman’s pictures of the bear – which show the sticker on a big plastic collar around its neck, as well as plastic tracking bolts in its ears – noting that it was the second time a black bear was spotted in the city with a political sticker on its collar.
‘We have so many places in this world to put stickers and express our political views,’ Chapman told the news station. ‘Using a wild animal for that is cruel and inhuman. It’s not OK.’
‘Whoever put these political stickers on these bears is cruel and heartless. HAB and our followers hope to stop and expose you,’ the group said, postulating that the sticker enthusiast is either someone involved with the study or a member of the public.
In her original note to the non profit, Chapman had written that having bears stop at her home is not an unusual occurrence over the last two to three years.
She said that her neighborhood ‘does its best to peacefully coexist with the bears and have few problems– and the problems we do have are usually because we forget to secure our garbage cans.’
Chapman noted that the bears seemed to be uncomfortable with the collars around their necks and was concerned about them.
She eventually learned that the bears were collared by the North Carolina Urban/Suburban Bear Study. After speaking with a member of the organization in May 2019, Chapman said, ‘The group sounded committed to protecting our Urban bears and promoting their health and well being.’
‘That is why I was shocked to see this on the bear’s collar today,’ she wrote of the Trump 2020 sticker.
‘I believe this is an abhorrent practice. These bears are already suffering enough with the heavy collars and metal ear mutilations. But to put a political sticker on the collar? No words can describe my anger and sadness.’
Chapman said that she had reached out to North Carolina Urban/Suburban Bear Study and also the North Carolina Wildlife Resources, but had not had a response yet.
North Carolina State University professor Dr. Chris DePerno, who is a member of the bear study program that the school is conducting, told CNN that it’s ‘highly unethical to place any sticker on an animal.’
‘Unfortunately, someone has habituated this bear to the point where it has lost its natural wariness of people, allowing this person to place the sticker on the collar,’ DePerno said.
In doing so, ‘The person that has helped this bear become food dependent and habituated is putting humans and the safety of the bear at risk.’
The danger to the human is, of course, being attacked by the bear. But, the danger to the bear is that it will likely be euthanized if it mauls a human.
In 2019, after the first political sticker bear sighting, NC State wildlife biologist Jennifer Strules told the Citizen-Times that ‘People really need to understand they have a responsibility to live with these animals in a manner that’s befitting each of our species, respectively.’
She added that ‘doing something like that (the sticker) is not how we want people to be cohabiting with bears at all.’
The HAB is urging anyone with information about who put the Trump stickers on the bears to call 1-855-SOS-BEAR.