Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kung Fu Bears

Be prepared: you never know when you might run into people.
by Robert L. Gisel

  It is a hackneyed saying, in the interests of survival in any bear habitat, don't place yourself between a mother bear and her cubs. The instincts of motherhood coupled with the combative power of the species put too much adrenalin in the fore to be reckoned with. It is called 'pissed off', or 'Extreme PO'. Then again, you should consider the wrath of the cubs may be worse.

 The good news is the mother will not permit this to happen where that is possible. Should you come in down wind,  run  in upon the cubs unexpectedly so as to surprise or corner or threaten the mother and cubs, this would be a sure way to invite battle. Given enough advance warning, the mother will herd the cubs out of danger.

 Yes, danger, as the bear can consider you dangerous to them as you may consider them dangerous to you. If you think about it, people kill far more bears than the other way around.

 An unusual event occurred in the night in Yellowstone National Park where a mother bear with three cubs ripped through tents to kill one person and injure two others before the campers found safety in their cars. The cubs were found to be malnourished. Goes to show, a mother might do anything to feed her kids.

 Use good judgment always, but make sure you have learned the parameters of appropriate response. Here is a link to a fairly good list on attack avoidance, for starters, and a definitive Tongass Forest article on living in peace with the bears. The key is mutual respect. Hey, with respect the Palestinians and Israelis could even learn to live without attacking each other.

 One man, Mark Stintson,  takes difference with the mother and cubs rule. He tells of a black bear sow that hibernated under their porch in Wisconsin for some months. He didn't have the heart to evict this bear, making such a racket under the porch, when he saw she was in labor having cubs. That's truly cohabiting with nature.

 Here is a person who walked with a mother and cubs and caught it on film. This modifying consideration does not invalidate the stable datum: don't get between the mother and her cubs without a negotiated settement. It is an apparency of threat that kicks the adrenalin into attack mode with all the wrath of motherly protection.

 Several decades ago a Southeast Alaskan family raised an orphaned cub as a household pet. This worked out well until he got too big for the house. The grown bear could stand on its hind legs and poke his head over the eve of the roof.

 The family forgot to inform the contract roofer about their pet. When the bear poked his head over the roof the worker was so scared he leaped off the other side -- forget the ladder -- and raced away from there in his truck. They had to get another roofer to finish the job as the first one refused to return. Scaredy cat.

 I believe he was eventually sold to a zoo, or maybe it was Hollywood (the pet bear, not the fearful roofer). Wild animals can learn to get along with people, where the people aren't so ornery.

 Another formidable reason not to violate the mother and cubs rule is that it has now been discovered bear cubs know karate. The Jackie Chan Martial Arts Program for Kids goes out of its way to be indiscriminate.


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