Recently I was at a social function back east. Word had gotten out that I was from Alaska so a gentleman asked me about our bears, specifically about bear attacks. Maybe its TV, but for some reason people are fascinated with bear attacks.
I started out by pointing out that bear attacks are pretty rare, and that simple preparation like controlling food odors and trash did wonders to prevent human-bear conflicts, along with a basic knowledge of bear behavior was really the best solution.
"What if a bear still attacked you, then?" asked the gentleman. I replied that I'd probably spray it with bear mace, and explained how big a can the stuff comes in, and that its been shown to be pretty effective against bears which are curious or hungry or even surprised (i.e. the majority of bear encounters). I also explained how bluff charges work, and how most bear behavior is based on posturing, and that if you stand your ground firmly you won't trigger the prey-instinct most bears have.
The man looked dubious. "What if it still kept coming and it was going to maul you or eat you?" he inquired, expressing doubt that pepper spray would stop a big bruin.
Matter of factly, I replied, "Well, I'd probably consider shooting it at that point." At this point, he looked very concerned. He bleated if it was probably illegal to carry a gun, or illegal to shoot a bear, or if the bear would somehow wrestle the gun from me and shoot me with it (he actually expressed concern that I'd shoot myself, or that the bear would somehow develop opposable thumbs or something). I then rhetorically asked, "Well, what would you do?" (to which he had no answer except to be eaten, I suppose) and then changed the subject to moose, which are actually far more dangerous than bears as far as wildlife goes.
Seriously, I hope that I never have to DLP a bear. First, it is a waste of a good bear's life. Next, it limits a resource that we exploit for hunting as well as tourism and viewing; every DLP'd bear is considered when they set the tag limits and hunting rules and even land access policies. Third, it is a huge pain in the neck. You have to finish off a wounded animal, then skin it and properly care for the hide--all to give it to the state for free! I much prefer to exercise some prevention and learn a bit about bear behavior and then in the unlikely event of an encounter, spray it. But if one gnawed on me, absolutely, it'd probably take a few rounds if I thought that would get it off of me faster than playing dead would.
It just highlighted to me how different people think in the People's Republics back east, though. I suppose the answer to them is that you should let yourself get mauled, or maybe negotiate with it or something. Since when did people back here decide to stop being tool using monkeys?
Camera Land's Deal of the Day - 5/23/2013
2 hours ago