Kerigan Disorda, a 13-year-old girl from Vermont, has been hunting black bears since she was 11. The species’ population in Vermont increased from 2,000 to 5,000 between 1975 and 2008, posing a risk not only to people but also to the bears themselves: overpopulation can lead to incidents of mass-starvation and disease that can threaten to wipe out a species from an area.
Hunting, though a gruesome hobby to some, plays a valuable role in controlling bear populations, as well as helping to fund habitat improvement and management. “Usually when we meet people hiking, and they don’t like us hunting, we explain why we do it,” she says. “We fight to keep the population down because if that gets out of control disease will break out and all the animals will die.”
Kerigan says hunting gets her outside to do something, and not sit in front of the TV all day. She also says it has deepened her appreciation for nature. Her bedsheets are covered in images of black bears and she hopes to one day became a bear biologist or a game warden. The dedicated hunter wakes at 4am, heading out into the woods with hunting dogs, returns at dark and repeats the next day. “Not many parents would let their 13-year old daughter take off in the mountains of Vermont with just a GPS in her hand,” says her father Jeff, smiling proudly. “But she runs it as well if not better than me.”
Read the full story at Gizmodo.