After a four-year long investigation, bear baying has finally come to an end in South Carolina. Six black bears who were victims of this cruel blood sport have been safely transported out of South Carolina and into their new home at the 720-acre Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keensburg, Colorado.

Bear baying, also known as bear baiting, has been cited as a way to train dogs for hunting but is long believed to actually be a cruel spectator sport. It involves taking a captive bear and tethering or chaining her to a stake within a fenced enclosure.

South Carolina remains the only state in the U.S. that still legally allows bear baying, but the rescue of these six bears symbolizes its end, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR). No other privately-owned bears exist in the state for this type of purpose. Furthermore, South Carolina’s DNR will no longer issue permits for the private possession of black bears.

“[The] DNR does not consider bear baying/baiting a legitimate field trial and has never issued and will not issue permits for this activity. [The] DNR also does not consider the possession of black bears by individuals to be biologically sound, safe for the local community, or in the best long-term interest of the wild black bear resource,” reports the South Carolina DNR via a press release.

A bear captured for bear baying activities often has some of her claws and teeth removed, rendering her defenseless to the onslaught of dogs that try to keep her still, or “at bay.” The dogs in fact bark furiously at the terrified bear and jump on her and bite her arms and legs, reports the Humane Society of the United States. The captive bear must simply endure this cruelty as she has no way of breaking free.

Thankfully, we should no longer hear stories such as these out of South Carolina. The rescue of the state’s six remaining bear baying victims is absolutely wonderful news and marks not just an end to this bloodsport, but also a huge victory for animal protection.

Image source: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources