Urge the USDA to Protect Captive Bears!
Despite dragging its heels for more than a year after PETA petitioned it to enact stronger regulatory protection for bears, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finally opened the public comment period for consideration of this critical proposal. Now we need your help to make sure that the agency does the right thing and enacts stronger regulations for captive bears!
Bears, who have natural ranges of up to thousands of miles in the wild, are being kept in cramped cages and concrete pits at deplorable roadside facilities across the country that exhibit the animals to generate a profit while disregarding their most basic needs. Many bears at roadside zoos spend most of their waking hours pacing, head-butting the cages, and engaging in other abnormal behavior that is indicative of suffering—all because the USDA has disregarded the space, enrichment, dietary, and behavioral needs of captive bears, who recent studies show are just as complex and intelligent as primates. The USDA currently allows bears to be kept in conditions that constitute cruelty to animals. In fact, a North Carolina judge found last year that the Jambbas Ranch roadside zoo committed illegal cruelty to animals by forcing a bear named Ben to live in a concrete and chain-link dog run that USDA inspectors found acceptable. The judge entered an order allowing PETA to transfer Ben to a reputable sanctuary immediately so that he could be provided with a naturalistic habitat and qualified care.
While Ben is thriving in his new 2-acre natural habitat—which is full of oak trees, grass, and hills and a swimming pool—hundreds of bears across the country will continue to suffer in substandard conditions unless the USDA implements rules that specifically address the unique and complex needs of captive bears.
The USDA will be accepting public comments on this matter until March 12, 2014, and it is critical that the agency receives overwhelming support for these regulatory improvements. Please urge the USDA to implement regulations requiring that captive bears be provided with adequate space, enrichment, naturalistic habitats, nutritious diets, and opportunities to den, explore, run, bathe, and engage in other behavior that is necessary for a bear’s minimum physical and psychological well-being. Sample comments are below, but it is always most effective to use your own words.
Please use the “Comment Now!” button at the right-hand side of the Regulations.gov screen. The government’s website is experiencing extended load times but is currently working.
Please submit comments here.
Please feel free to use our sample letter, but remember that using your own words is always more effective.