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The Humane Society of the United States Applauds South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for Filing Charges in Bear Baying Cruelty Case

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has arrested a man and filed felony charges for allowing dogs to repeatedly attack and bite a captive bear. This follows a three-year campaign by The Humane Society of the United States and an undercover investigation in 2010 that revealed cruelty occurring at South Carolina’s so-called “bear baying” competitions.

As part of a plea deal, the owner surrendered three bears, who will be transported to a permanent animal sanctuary. The HSUS applauded the DNR for pursuing this investigation, and is thankful for the agency’s efforts to protect these bears from suffering continued abuse at bear baying competitions.

Kim Kelly, South Carolina state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “Pitting packs of dogs against captive bears is a gruesome vestige of ancient animal cruelty as a spectator sport – not unlike the staged fights in the Roman Colosseum. It was banned in most of the world long ago, and has no place here in South Carolina. Our state officials are doing the right thing to crack down on this cruelty and to save these bears from further abuse.”

The HSUS has offered to assist the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources with the removal and transport of the bears to permanent sanctuary.


  • Bear baying competitions are cruel spectator events where a captive bear is tethered or chained to a stake inside a fenced enclosure. Sometimes the bear has had her claws and some of her teeth cut off so she is unable to defend herself.  Dogs are released into the pen to attack the bear. The supposed goal is for the dogs to corner the bear and keep her still, or “at bay.” In reality, the dogs bark furiously at the terrified bear, jumping on her and biting her face and legs.
    • The HSUS released the results of an undercover investigation into bear baying in late 2010. Documented footage of the events, which can last for several hours and include hundreds of dogs, underscored the cruelty that the bears endure, including physical and psychological trauma.
    • South Carolina is the only state where bear baying is still permitted, yet continued efforts to pass legislation banning bear baying have failed at the statehouse.
    • The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is no longer issuing new permits for private possession of black bears.

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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