Montreat bear hunting debate: Hunter involved speaks out

Montreat’s growing bear population brought hunting dogs to town with hunters whose practices have been widely criticized. One of them decided to speak out.

“I’m one of the guys that had dogs up there,” said Matthew Austin, a bear hunter for the past 20 years. “There are some assumptions made from people talking who weren’t even there.”

Austin said he was involved in the incident that sparked the debate and push for changes to town laws regarding hunting dogs. According to Montreat commissioners, four instances of hunting dogs chasing bears through town were reported with at least one instance of children being put at risk.

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“I had never heard of anybody thinking they were in any kind of danger,” Austin said. “The dogs are human friendly. They’re not going to come out and attack your kids.”

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