October 16, 2016

Why the extra love for an animal that seems like a person?

"A beloved black bear that won hearts after he was spotted walking around New Jersey on two legs, earning him the name Pedals, is believed to have been killed by a bow hunter."
A Facebook page created for the famous bear... announced Pedals’ death Friday....

“The hunter who has wanted him dead for nearly 3 years had the satisfaction of putting an arrow through him, bragging at the station,” read the Facebook post, which sparked anger and sadness among some of the page’s 22,000 fans.
But it was bear season, and according to the Department of Environmental Protection, the hunt is "designed to maintain the bear populations and enhance public safety." The animal was fair game, and its walking on 2 legs was not some sort of evolution of a higher being but the result of some injury to its forelegs. What endears the bear to sentimental humans was probably, for the bear, suffering.



I can understand the empathy for hunted animals. But who are these people who imagine themselves on the high ground when they are showing favor to the bear who seems special because he walks upright, like a person? That seems more like bias against the bears who don't seem human. Why should an animal have to appeal to our self-love to get respect? We should respect all animals, cute and ugly, whether they remind us of ourselves or not.

ADDED: Now, I do see the argument that the hunter should not have chosen to shoot this particular bear if he knew that there were human beings that loved it. On the other hand, I could see targeting the bear because it was suffering. But what if the hunter knew the bear was loved by humans but thought those particular humans deserved a slap in the face because they were morally benighted to love the appearance of humanity in a bear that was suffering?

59 comments:

MayBee said...

This is so, so , so good Althouse.

Paddy O said...

Why the extra love for an animal that seems like a person?

Because that's the sort of thing that defines us as people.

We like the alike. The most scary aliens are always the insectoid.

That's why Hillary is trying to act as human as possible too.

MrCharlie2 said...

Your tag should be "anthropomorphism"

Bay Area Guy said...

Human beings didn't love this bear. They loved the idea of a peaceful, domesticated bear.

Hagar said...

Said bear also made his living in the suburbs which is no place for a bear to be. His injuries made him walk upright and look cute, but also looking for some easy prey if opportunity offered.

rhhardin said...

Don't forget Cecil the lion, shot by a MN dentist. Who could have seen that coming, asks Tim Blair. podcast, with extended thoughts on wild animal sentiment.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Crippled predators are literally always The Most Dangerous Ones to humans. Their ordinary prey of muskrat or whatever they run around for is able to elude them so either they starve, or else they have to find slower less fit prey, namely, people.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Why do humans feel more empathy for non-human things that seem human than they do for non-human things that do not feel human? Is that really the question? That's not mysterious.

Why do certain people feel empathy for certain identifiable/charismatic people & things but feel no sympathy for faceless or non-charismatic people or things? What's the Stalin quote, one death is a tragedy but a million deaths is a statistic?

MrCharlie2 said...

It was bear season last week here in NJ, but as part of the regular bow season. NJ being heavily populated the large game seasons are divided among bow, black powder/muzzle loading rifle, and shotgun (with deer slugs). No real rifle season. This is to avoid killing the housewife hanging laundry a mile away.

I live near Rockaway, but much further into the hills, i.e. more natural bear country. But, Rockaway seems to have more bears than anywhere else. Lot's of easy pickings, I suppose.

Thinking about this bear: it would have been painful and gruesome. You would not want to be killed by a hunting arrow shot from 50 yards. I hope the hunter had something better to finish him off with, because the first arrow probably did not do it.

Imagine yourself the hunter shooting a very large biped. Is he happy? Realistically, this bear was probably on all fours when killed.

MrCharlie2 said...

Another point about the hunter: in New Jersey we know our bears fairly personally. This bear had a regular route, probably harmonized with garbage day. The hunter in question probably had this planned and was just waiting for the chance to do it legally.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Apparently he was not that much smarter than the av-er-age bear.

n.n said...

Euthanasia, perhaps. Conservation. One less predator for Bambi and friends to evade. A reduced density population competing for the same resources. Nature does does not offer perpetual smoothing functions in order to prolong high density population centers.

As for empathy, it's due to correlation, the process by which our brains function. That deference, however, ends with a threat, competitor, or higher order empathy.

Sharc said...

Even worse, at the time of the shooting, Pedals was wearing a clown suit. The humanity!

traditionalguy said...

Oh no. Killed by a bow and arrow. Don't Bear Lives Matter. Now Hillary will want to see a ban on open carry of assault style bows and arrows. The NRA will need to jump right on this before another group fund raises from it.

Her new appointees to the Supreme Court will probably pledge to find a Second Amendment reading that bans all known weapons for WASP people, but finds in penumbra to the penumbra an exemption for Indian Tribes that carry assault style Bows and Arrows, along with extra sharp scalping knives and long handled tomahawks.

And Elizabeth Warren will overnight become the most dangerous person walking on Harvard Yard.

Rob said...

You'd think Donald Trump Jr. would be too busy with the campaign to go hunting.

D. B. Light said...

Kipling had something to say about this:

Yearly, with tent and rifle, our careless white men go
By the Pass called Muttianee, to shoot in the vale below.
Yearly by Muttianee he follows our white men in --
Matun, the old blind beggar, bandaged from brow to chin.

Eyeless, noseless, and lipless -- toothless, broken of speech,
Seeking a dole at the doorway he mumbles his tale to each;
Over and over the story, ending as he began:
"Make ye no truce with Adam-zad -- the Bear that walks like a Man!

"There was a flint in my musket -- pricked and primed was the pan,
When I went hunting Adam-zad -- the Bear that stands like a Man.
I looked my last on the timber, I looked my last on the snow,
When I went hunting Adam-zad fifty summers ago!

"I knew his times and his seasons, as he knew mine, that fed
By night in the ripened maizefield and robbed my house of bread.
I knew his strength and cunning, as he knew mine, that crept
At dawn to the crowded goat-pens and plundered while I slept.

"Up from his stony playground -- down from his well-digged lair --
Out on the naked ridges ran Adam-zad the Bear --
Groaning, grunting, and roaring, heavy with stolen meals,
Two long marches to northward, and I was at his heels!

"Two long marches to northward, at the fall of the second night,
I came on mine enemy Adam-zad all panting from his flight.
There was a charge in the musket -- pricked and primed was the pan --
My finger crooked on the trigger -- when he reared up like a man.

"Horrible, hairy, human, with paws like hands in prayer,
Making his supplication rose Adam-zad the Bear!
I looked at the swaying shoulders, at the paunch's swag and swing,
And my heart was touched with pity for the monstrous, pleading thing.

"Touched witth pity and wonder, I did not fire then . . .
I have looked no more on women -- I have walked no more with men.
Nearer he tottered and nearer, with paws like hands that pray --
From brow to jaw that steel-shod paw, it ripped my face away!

"Sudden, silent, and savage, searing as flame the blow --
Faceless I fell before his feet, fifty summers ago.
I heard him grunt and chuckle -- I heard him pass to his den.
He left me blind to the darkened years and the little mercy of men.

"Now ye go down in the morning with guns of the newer style,
That load (I have felt) in the middle and range (I have heard) a mile?
Luck to the white man's rifle, that shoots so fast and true,
But -- pay, and I lift my bandage and show what the Bear can do!"

(Flesh like slag in the furnace, knobbed and withered and grey --
Matun, the old blind beggar, he gives good worth for his pay.)
"Rouse him at noon in the bushes, follow and press him hard --
Not for his ragings and roarings flinch ye from Adam-zad.

"But (pay, and I put back the bandage) this is the time to fear,
When he stands up like a tired man, tottering near and near;
When he stands up as pleading, in wavering, man-brute guise,
When he veils the hate and cunning of his little, swinish eyes;

"When he shows as seeking quarter, with paws like hands in prayer
That is the time of peril -- the time of the Truce of the Bear!"

Eyeless, noseless, and lipless, asking a dole at the door,
Matun, the old blind beggar, he tells it o'er and o'er;
Fumbling and feeling the rifles, warming his hands at the flame,
Hearing our careless white men talk of the morrow's game;

Over and over the story, ending as he began: --
"There is no trnce with Adam-zad, the Bear that looks like a Man!"

chickelit said...

Why do hunters have to hunt and kill animals? Why can't they just buy meat at the grocery store?

I just heard that Colin Kaepernick -- everyone's brave new hero -- went vegan.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Rob, what makes you think he's not campaigning? Hillary Clinton quotes that you can keep your shotgun if you like your shotgun, and a trump kid goes out and actually bags some game? Who's going after the hunters in Pennsylvania?

Unknown said...

Charismatic megafauna.

PBandJ_Ombudsman said...

How long will it take for our culture to realize that recording viral bait is best done w/ a landscape image?

mishu said...

If this bear's front two paws were so injured that he couldn't walk on them, was he really dangerous? His front claws are his weapons and he likely survived on garbage. This bear should have been in a sanctuary or zoo. Any idiot who brags about an easy target like that is very lame.

Guildofcannonballs said...

This fits in with a song I am writing "Poop on the Paw on the Pillow" about a women wordlessly leaving a relationship/marriage after seeing their (his) beloved Barnie with the eponymous poop.

It was Poop on the paw on the pillow,
Never herd(!) those words but I know,
It was poop on the paw on the pillow,
Late last night.

Now I'm feeling so low,
Cause of poop on the paw on the pillow,
Just like Nino I know we go
Where it's right.

Took dark selfies of an ego,
'Fore saw poop on the paw on the pillow,
Now roll roadin'' in the Winnebego,
Wheels alight.


Diogenes of Sinope said...

Someone should have taken Pedals in during hunting season.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Black bear lives matter.

William said...

Does a bipedal bear shit in the woods?

YoungHegelian said...

This is why I support our Constitutional right to arm bears!

(Oh, calm down. You knew that one was coming sooner or later.)

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Pedals was just exercising his 2nd amendment right to bear arms.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

A polar bear wouldn't have been shot.

Big Mike said...

Okay, here's what I don't get. There's an animal, no, a carnivore, moving around in a populated area that is acting in a very unusual manner. No one thinks to report this to animal control? A wildlife control officer needed to tranquilize the poor thing and have it checked out. If it was suffering, as most of the more savvy of us suppose, then it should have been put down. People finding enjoyment from an animal's pain and suffering, such as the folks who created "his" Facebook page, are pretty low in my book.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Bay Area Guy said...
Human beings didn't love this bear. They loved the idea of a peaceful, domesticated bear.

10/16/16, 7:34 PM

Our sentimentalization of wild animals shows just how far removed we are from nature. Timothy Treadwell thought the grizzlies were his buddies right up until the time one decided Timmy and his girlfriend would make a tasty snack.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"A wildlife control officer needed to tranquilize the poor thing and have it checked out. If it was suffering, as most of the more savvy of us suppose, then it should have been put down."

Yes, I don't get sentimental about wild animals, but I don't want them to suffer unnecessarily.

Bad Lieutenant said...

I think that bears are omnivorous but I believe that as my old friend Maria says, polar bears do not eat people, but all the other bears certainly may.


mishu said...
If this bear's front two paws were so injured that he couldn't walk on them, was he really dangerous? His front claws are his weapons and he likely survived on garbage. This bear should have been in a sanctuary or zoo. Any idiot who brags about an easy target like that is very lame.
10/16/16, 9:36 PM

Only the right forepaw was clutched to the chest as if broken or deformed. The bear can get around some on three legs but is quite adequate in two for a while.

If we weren't judging and hating on and using this person, this bear, this situation, you might wonder, what actually did motivate the shooter to shoot this particular bear? And what were all the circumstances of it?

However, while this may be of interest, it cannot be considered to be partially kind of us and a fence. If something makes a particular human want to shoot a particular bear, that is interesting, but the human is not accountable. The human doesn't have to justify his feelings. He just has to obey the law. And I don't suppose that the law prevents bearing a grudge against Bears or A bear.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Poor Pedals another victim of homelessness.

Big Mike said...

@Bad LT, polar bears certainly will kill and eat people. The Inuit are terrified of them, particularly if they are out in white out conditions. You are correct that black bears and grizzlies are omnivores, but my point was that a hungry bear is a threat to humans, esp. kids and the infirm.

Chuck said...

Anybody here ever shot a bear? Who here has seen a wild black bear at close range in the woods? And who has seen a harvested bear, that's been gutted and field-dressed?

I've seen all of it. Bears in the woods appear so agile and sleek and fluid. But they can be dangerous; I've seen a pair of bears tear up a campsite in Michigan's Porcupine State Wilderness Park. Frightful, and ugly. I've seen harvested bear brought into MDNR regional headquarters as well. And up close they are filthy, oily, nasty creatures.

Freeman Hunt said...

I love this post.

Related: Why hunting with arrows? Seems an awful lot more painful for the prey.

Terry said...

If the bear walks like that, its paws are free to carry an ax, a chainsaw, or even a gun. It also could play with matches.
Whoever killed it should be given a medal.

Darrell said...

That bastard killed Yogi!

gadfly said...

Remember the story of the feral child raised by wolves? Mogli, I think, was his name in Jungle Book. Well, this sounds like Pedal, the bear raised by humans - who couldn't ride a bike because its front paws were injured. A timely story idea for all the animal-loving writers out there on the wide wide web.

Rusty said...

Freeman Hunt said...
I love this post.

"Related: Why hunting with arrows? Seems an awful lot more painful for the prey."

As in hunting with a rifle or shotgun, shot placement i crucial. It is why you expend much more ammunition/ arrows practicing. A well placed arrow Is just as lethal as bullet. The idea has always been to put the animal down with one shot.
In the case of this bear. it has gotten used to being around people and people food. In the long run the bear would only get bolder and start looking for easier sources of food as it got older. It wasn't a pet and being wild would do those things that predators do.

Curious George said...

"Freeman Hunt said...
I love this post."

Really? I was wishing I was the Pedals.

Darrell said...

Couldn't someone keep Pedals inside until the hunting season was over? We all are Pedals' keeper.

Lost My Cookies said...

It's the hurt ones that'll kill you.

Darrell said...

Pedals was supporting Trump. That's the real reason for the assassination.

Bad Lieutenant said...


Big Mike said...
@Bad LT, polar bears certainly will kill and eat people

B M, totally agree, just musing on my friend Maria there, she is so cute. She things polar bears are adorable, etc. Some people should not be disillusioned.

No, the poor cuss needed taking out. It is interesting, if true, why someone should develop a grudge, conceive a hatred, for some particular animal.

Perhaps THIS time, he was really there to hunt. <--stop me if you've heard that one

Ann Althouse said...

"This is so, so , so good Althouse."

Hey, why don't all the comments threads begin like that?

Ann Althouse said...

@D. B. Light

Thanks for that!

Darrell said...

Hey, why don't all the comments threads begin like that?

Because it goes to your head. And it wouldn't be special.

viator said...

I don't know about Wisconsin but here in upstate New York we are experiencing a renaissance of wildlife. It has gotten to the point that deer are a major pest. There are thousands of deer/auto collisions annually. Dead deer litter the roads. The undergrowth has been eaten by the deer into a unbalanced ecology. Gardeners throw up their hands at the devastation. Then there are the major diseases the deer carry which humans get in increasing numbers. The only effective remedy is to construct a major fence around your property.

Following the deer are the smaller carnivores. Foxes, bobcats, and coyotes are common. They bring a whole new set of problems for one the of the favorite meals of coyotes are domestic cats and small dogs.

Following the minor carnivores will be the major carnivores bears, wolves, and mountain lions. Black bears for the most part are pretty harmless except for their love of human garbage. Wolves and mountain lions less so.

Will all this burgeoning wildlife eventually achieve balance? How much interference will humans tolerate?

tim in vermont said...

I know it's just a bear, and bears kill stuff regularly, including toddlers, if you let them wander too close to the forest, and I know every living creature is going to die sometime. But it reminds me of the bear on Andy Williams. The post is painful to look at for that reason.

tim in vermont said...

It has gotten to the point that deer are a major pest.

Here too. Then the hunters kill the coy dogs, which prey on deer, because they prey on deer. I would rather listen to the coy dogs howl and bark at night than suffer the destruction the deer create. They say the coy dogs kill small pets. Guess what? If you are going to live out here, get a dog that can fend for itself, or keep yer dog or cat on a leash.

Meade said...

Pedals was so human-like that he finally went berserk and committed suicide by hunter.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Ann Althouse said...
"This is so, so , so good Althouse."

Hey, why don't all the comments threads begin like that?

10/17/16, 7:29 AM

Because we're pretty honest.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Obviously they need to increase the deer harvest.

Original Mike said...

Just spent the month at a lake house in northern Wisconsin. I was amazed at how tame the deer are. They had a regular foraging routine, and would pay you little mind as you went about the property. I started naming them: Sausage, Steak, Roast, Jerky, ...

Bad Lieutenant said...

BTW one reason "Why bowhunting?" is,

Shhh.

Shoot, serve, and shut up. As Will Ferrell said in his Little Debbies ad, No one needs to know. Just in case taking the deer who keep wandering under your apple tree is not quite legit.

A to the C said...

In the last few weeks my wife and I have encountered two black bears on our property in north western New Jersey. I pulled into my driveway after a late-night diaper run, and one was hanging around right where I would have parked my car. They are fascinating to see up close like that, but frightening as well. That is a large, powerful animal. I would have felt more secure if I had a gun in my car with me that night, rather than my 15 pound Cairn Terrier (she seemed to feel the same way). Luckily, in both cases the bear saw us and ran away, which they do in the vast majority of cases. No more late-night dog walking after our bear encounters, though.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

PAWS UP, DON'T SHOOT!

mishu said...

A lot of guys shitting their pants over a handicapped bear. A bear that can't swipe his front claws at them. Then they turn into amateur eugenicists stating the bear was better off dead. Taking their logic one step further, the healthiest, strongest bears, the bears that pose the greatest threat to humans and livestock must live on. Weird.

"I've seen harvested bear brought into MDNR regional headquarters as well. And up close they are filthy, oily, nasty creatures."

Most corpses are not pretty. Death kinda does that living things.