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Old 03-04-2016, 07:29 AM   #2
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 660
Tourists and bears will ALWAYS be a bad combination.

I realize the human victim here was not a tourist--but he was there working to make a wilderness area tourist-friendly. The re-introduction of grizzlies in the Bitterroot Valley is still a huge hot-button issue locally, and accidents do happen. Several years ago a big ol' biker on a big ol' Harley collided with a 600-pound grizzly up near one of the many passes in the area; both died at the scene if I remember correctly. I've photographed the tracks of a very young bear--I thought it was the trail of a large raccoon at first--half a block from my apartment and only a couple hundred yards from the town's high school! Probably a black bear...we hope.

I think a lot of the problem comes from two sources: how long it took us to get aggressive about people and garbage and feeding 'beggar' bears (and other large, dangerous, food-aggressive wildlife) and the current attitude among humans that only WE and what we can get out of something are important; if a species has little direct value to humans it's much harder to protect. Grizzlies belong to the category known as "charismatic mega-fauna", so massive efforts are made to help them because it brings tourists with cameras and fees in hands to our national parks in the West. Try getting that level of public support, or tourist interest, for a four-inch salamander smaller around than a Sharpie pen!

Personally I think we screwed up BAD in the early years of the national park system, leaving too many city folk sure of their safety in wilderness when they've had no training whatsoever how to interact with the wild. This is why I do not go on long solo walks, photo-op-hunts, or rockhounding ventures in real wilderness. I am NOT trained for that, not ever likely to be a good shot particularly with a large-caliber gun, and I'm not going to lend my carcass to the argument about people vs. bears, at least not that way. Never mind that most of the local mega-fauna are aggressive if they feel stalked or cornered! We have bear, moose, elk, whitetails, cougars, coyotes, bighorns AND mountain goats, any of which could put and end to me in about 10 seconds flat and all of which have been known to attack humans even if not locally. The difference between my camera and one in the hand of an urbanite tourist is that mine will never be used to annoy dangerous animals on their turf.

That is the thing we forget the fastest about genuinely wild animals--to them, the entire world is about survival of the species & individual. Some of them will attack to get rid of us because we get too close to dens or babies, some to take something we have because "if I can take it I can eat it" is a totally valid strategy to a bear as much as to a bison, and some will view us as predators have viewed humans for thousands upon thousands of years--made of meat.
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