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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Aspen Colorado Officials Tell Residents to be Mean to Bears

I smell a tragedy and then a lawsuit coming...

Check out this article by Bert Rudman from ABC News.com (via Drudge Report) Apparently bears are becoming more of a problem in Aspen Colorado. A food shortage, or something, is prodding bears to wander into town and go throw the human garbage for food. Anyone who has lived in a rural area around bears knows this is not at all unusual. Bears eat almost anything and love easy-to-get, high-calorie human trash.

What is unusual, at least to me, is the advice that officials are giving to residents. "Officials are now concerned that across Colorado too many wild bears have developed a tasted for human food and are getting used to people. They are now actively telling residents to be, literally, mean to the bears. Yell at them, throw rocks and if they charge you, stand up to them.

"'You want to be as big, as large as possible, and you always want to fight back with a black bear,' said [Randy] Hampton [a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife]. Black bears tend to be timid and are generally not aggressive.

"'When they are utilizing our environment as their habitat in that manner, they are also very likely to defend that territory, ' said Hampton. 'And so it can be a dangerous situation when bears get to the point where they are breaking into homes to get food.'"

Throw rocks at bears? And act big? Where did these guys get this advice from? The "kind warrior" Timothy Treadwell?

Okay, let's state the obvious here. Bears are unpredictable creatures. They are big, tremendously strong, and even a cub can inflict the kind of damage a trained pit bull or German Shepherd would envy. All kinds are dangerous. Yes, some people can talk about "tame" bears --one of my uncles owned a black bear as a pet for many years and it never attacked him or anybody else-- but you're really fooling yourself.

I cannot believe that any official would suggest that people go out and provoke and agitate bears. I mean is this Randy Hampton's first day? Okay, I can understand that you want to keep bears away from humans to decrease the likelihood of attacks, but this "advice" doesn't seem to be the best way to protect people... The official word is that they advise citizens to go out "act big" and "throw rocks" at bears? Seriously? Is this the Onion?

I've been around bears before, but I'm no expert... however I can assure you that if a some strange occasion arose for me to go outside and yell at bears (there's no chance in hell I'm going to throw rocks at one unless there's a vital emergency of some sort), I'd be armed with a high-powered rifle with a reasonable bore size-- .30 caliber at least-- in case it charges. Of course, no wildlife spokesperson is going to say to go out armed-- I mean that would be encouraging people to protect their lives or something.

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