Tuesday, August 30, 2005

We're Here! We're Queer! We Don't Want Any More Bears!

As you may know, I've been a little obsessed with bears and the maulings that bears seem to enjoy enacting upon humans.

Granted, now that I am back from my camping trip, the worry of impending death by Grizzly (or Brown) has lessened. Still, two recent articles remind me that, well, bears are still out there mauling people.

Why do bear maulings, or even interactions between bears and humans, occur?

1) The bear has smelled something yummy on you or your stuff.
2) The bear was minding its own business, you surprised him (or her), and now he must break you.

Preventing #1 is done by taking anything that smells, from food to deodorant to the clothes you cooked in, and hanging them on a pole many, many feet in the air. Even if the bear smells your stuff, once he figures out he can't get to it, he'll (supposedly) go away.

Preventing #2 is done by making lots of noise as you're going along your merry way, hiking or what not. If the bear hears you coming, he'll (supposedly) go away.

I say "supposedly" in both cases, because, THANK GOD, I did not run into any bears. Is it because I followed #s 1 & 2? Maybe. I can't say for sure, but I bet it didn't hurt.

A lack of #2 prevention happened in Glacier National Park last Thursday. Two hikers - a man and his daughter - hiked around a blind turn and startled a bear and her two cubs. The bear essentially beat the shit out of the two until they rolled off a 30 foot cliff. (Doesn't this seem like something Homer would do?) Read the story here.

Now, I'm not saying that it was the hikers' fault. It was a blind turn, maybe they did make noise and it wasn't heard, and again, I'm not a bear expert - maybe that particular bear would have stuck around anyway. (In all the literature I've read, it seems that nobody really knows what a bear is going to do in a startling situation.) All I know is holyshitsomebodygotmauledbyabearthreedaysafterileftthere.

Oh, whoops, I forgot ANOTHER reason why bears sometimes maul people! If you're a person who believes you can talk to the animals, make them your friends and even pet them on the nose, sometimes they will turn on you and kill both you and your girlfriend.

I realize that he's done some really good things, but I'm finding it hard to feel much sympathy for this guy. Apparently various wildlife officials feel the same way, judging from this great quote:
Treadwell claimed to have identified 21 vocalizations and body languages in grizzlies. If that's the case, says Bartlebaugh, the one he didn't recognize was the most important: "It was the one that says, Leave me alone."
Okay, this is all I'll say about bears. I'm happy I didn't see any in their natural habitat. Thank you beary much.


Post a Comment

<< Home