May 23, 2014

A Blanket of Stupidity Has Descended on Our County, Part 2

Read Part 1, When is a "rattlesnake" not a rattlesnake?
Click to enlarge.

On the 19th I combined a scout camera photo of a young bear with a bear-in-the-trash incident (same bear?) to make a blog post that tried to hit the "cute zone."

I should probably just leave "cute" alone. As for the bear, he is dead.

About 7:20 yesterday morning (the 22nd) as I was dressing to take Fisher for his walk, I heard a gun shot. I wanted to believe that it was something else.

We took our walk, came home, and Fisher, out on the veranda, alerted to something. I looked where he was looking, and there up in a big pine tree was a bear with blood on his side.

I called the sheriff's dispatcher and asked for a wildlife person. In about five minutes, one of the area district wildlife managers (what Colorado calls a game warden) called back. Twenty minutes later he was here, slipping his rifle from the scabbard behind the truck seat.

The warden moves for a clear shot at the wounded bear.
After he shot, he holds up his hand: "Look, I'm shaking. I just hate to have to destroy of those magnificent creatures." And he is talking about how he loves bears above all and even has a tattoo of bears under his shirt.

What had happened was this:

We have new neighbors, the kind who having moved from a town to a five-acre lot in the woods, think that they are now deep in the Alaskan bush and must defend themselves against all dangers.

They are well-armed and have four-wheel-drive vehicles, but they did not know where their well water came from until I told them.

Right away, the guy pissed off us and some other neighbors by target-shooting his fave AR-platform .308 rifle from his front yard and also sending .22 bullets zinging across a Forest Service road where someone else was walking (or so told us — and him).

Yesterday morning, he saw a bear in his dumpster, let his dog out, the bear swatted at the dog, and he shot it.

But "Mr. Tactical" did not kill it. He let it walk away, wounded. It came onto our property, climbed a tree, and suffered for over an hour until I saw it and called for the game warden.

Then his wife comes over to where the bear is lying, all "ohmygod there's a three-month-old baby in the house and the bear was around the house and I have baby chicks inside and we love animals because we have a dog and a canary!" Et cetera.

And then M. referred to her husband as a "murderer," and things threatened to become very un-neighborly indeed.

The warden stayed calm and reminded her (and Mr. Tactical when he finally showed up, standing back at a distance) that they could have called for an evaluation of the situation, maybe even a live-trap to remove the bear.

Shooting the bear just for poking into the garbage is flat illegal. But he did not cite them, because he was just over the line into another DWM's territory, and any law-enforcement action will be up to her. Naturally we are hoping that she gets his attention with a hefty fine.

At least these people are only renting, so maybe they will move on.

By ten o'clock, the incident was over — but the day was not. There was more to come.


Unknown said...

That's horrible. If they can't handle wildlife, they shouldn't live in your neighborhood.

Chas S. Clifton said...

I agree!

Camera Trap Codger said...

People who don't understand nature and live in the country are like people who drive without a drivers license. They're all menaces.

Meg said...

Argh, why we call the local dumpster raider the "can't be a bear we live in the city," while encouraging good garbage hygiene with our neighbors.

Good luck and I hope they move on soon and you get better neighbors.

Alyssa Johnson said...

I stayed <10 miles from Denali National Park in a hostel that THRIVES off DNP tourists. If you've ever been to DNP, you'll know how serious they take their animal(bear)/human interactions, and ironically up until that summer (2012), there had never been a human-by-bear death in that park. So I'm on a trip of a lifetime, visiting Alaska, hostel-ling with a friend. This EXACT scenario played out in front of me one morning, when a lone black bear was found nosing around in a flip-top style dumpster at the hostel. NOT bear proofed. Might I also add there was a side by side fridge on the porch of the 'common building' for guests to use? Unsecured. I overheard a hostel telling someone, "Oh yeah, food in the (canvas sided) tents is fine! No worries".... Um? And so one morning, against the direction of an employee, I went to see the bear in the dumpster, and witnessed the owner of the hostel drive up, throw a rock at the bear to make it pop out of the dumpster, then shot it dead 3 times. Sickening, and saddening. I was visiting DNP for God's sake! How was this allowed? Long story short, I called AK Wildlife State Troopers, and reported it. The man was fined "hunting out of season"... $250. Slap on the wrist, and no requirements to secure his facility. I was called to testify in Fairbanks, because he fought it. Unlucky him, I had been videoing the bear, and caught the whole scenario. Stories like yours and mine are why I want to be a biologist, bears specifically. It makes me so sad to hear of these preventable losses.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Alyssa: If the neighbor is fined, it will probably be in that dollar range. :(