Children on the hunt

Published 9:25 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On Saturday, there were bears in the woods off King’s Fork Road, and parents just let their kids run free in hopes of them having an encounter.

But these bears were more cute and cuddly than big and growly.

The Suffolk-Nansemond Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America held a teddy bear hunt for kids, the third annual installment of an effort to encourage children to get outside and enjoy nature. Several dozen kids, along with their patient guardians and a bevy of Izaak Walton volunteers, took advantage of a beautiful spring day to go on the hunt for the harmless stuffed animals.

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With “hunting licenses” in hand, the tykes explored the trails on the organization’s property near the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association’s fields, ready to draw on any bears they might find hanging by ribbons attached to the trees along the way.

Their weapons were no more deadly than scissors or pocketknives, but it’s safe to assume the memories will be no less vibrant in the children’s young minds than if they’d been out hunting grizzly bears with long guns.

“The parents say, ‘This is the most fun I’ve had with them outdoors in ages,’” said Tim Doxey, the media chair for the chapter. “The idea is to get them out in nature and in the woods. It’s just a way to get the families together outside.”

This is one of the league’s signature events, but it is hardly the only thing its members do in the community.

The chapter participates in many events throughout the year, including river cleanups and adopt-a-road cleanups. It also gives scholarships to college students pursuing studies pertaining to conservation and the environment.

Members hope the experience these youngsters had at this event will encourage them to become involved in conservation efforts in the future by helping them recognize the importance of unspoiled natural areas.

We���re all for that, and we suspect the city’s real bears would be in favor of it, too.