On bears

I have never given them much thought really. Growing up in the land of sky blue waters, I was always rather fond of the Hamm’s bear. As a very small child I couldn’t tell the difference between Yogi Berra and Yogi Bear, and thought it weird that their was a cartoon about a Yankee catcher–how could that be funny or interesting? Polar bears were another matter entirely because I understand about the cold and about camouflage. I ran into a black bear on the shores of Lake Superior one sunny afternoon in April. I couldn’t tell who was more terrified, me or the bear, as I quickly and blindly ran in the other direction. Now I work on a campus with its own bears–tame, not wild, but they are still bears. They live in a nice habitat constructed just for them, and they have relatively stress-free lives when compared to wild bears, I mean. When I am in the north woods, I am careful to never leave food out or put garbage anywhere that might attract these four-footed omnivores. Bears are big and fast, can climb any tree, and if taunted, can open doors. Though they are large predators, I still think humans are more deadly, and for the most part, bears are not happy in the presence of people unless either food or baby bears are in question. Never underestimate a bear. A person in a sleeping bag out in the woods is a sort of live panini with a juicy filling. Unfortunately, hungry bears will eat anything, don’t have much of a flight response in the presence of people, and have begun to associate urban centers with food–garbage to be precise. I think perhaps that this is one relationship, however, that both bears and humans can do without. Maybe we should keep our cartoon bears to ourselves, and let the real thing run wild.