Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bears--My New Favorite Topic

To be honest, I should not say "new" because bears have been a part of my entire life. Lucas' French friends were determined to see some wildlife before returning to Europe and particularly, bears were top priority. Luckily, they achieved their goal in Yellowstone Park by sighting our biggest and best--the Grizzly. The Griz is UM's mascot after all. I love bears but they scare me. My father taught me a healthy respect for them and if they are truly wild and unused to humans, usually they are more afraid of us than we are of them. The Grizzly can and is an exception to the rule. Never would I enjoy sighting a Grizzly while on a hike and I would prefer seeing a black bear from a car than a trail.

When my son takes off to backpack and camp in national parks, I get nervous. Every summer the mauling stories make the newspaper. He does everything right in terms of hanging his food and eating separately from where he sleeps, but still--bears are intelligent and Grizzlies are immediately beneath orcas on the Mensa scale. Thankfully, the bears Lucas has seen this spring with his friends have been from the car on the way to or back from his hiking trips. Whew! Just last week, on a day hiking trip to Washington's Olympic Peninsula, Lucas took these photos of two young bears.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The Yellow Tag--Not sure about him.

I need to follow up with my brother who is quite experienced in dealing with problem bears in the campgrounds around Sheridan, Montana. It seems to me that if they are yellow tagged, it is a label of nuisance. Folks at Yellowstone Park sort of lied to my brother, an experienced Forest Service employee, about where they "redistribute" problem bears after he captured some yellow tagged former Yellowstone Park residents.

And finally, an update on our swimmer bear. He has been named "Columbus" by the powers that be because of his obsession with travel and exploration and the two mile swim across Puget Sound. They caught him today in Federal Way by attracting him with baked goods like muffins and donuts. See!? I predicted it---Federal Way---I knew he was stalking Sanjaya or Apolo. He was tranquilized and he will wake up to find himself even further east---probably with a yellow tag in his ear.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
He is soooo cuuute! Yea, right.