Monday, June 21, 2010


I educated a bear the other day. He refused to leave the neighbours' yard, and since leaving is the polite and mannerly thing to do when asked, they called me to teach him proper etiquette. I went, and took my shotgun as a negotiating tool.

It's not that I don't like big, furry critters with claws and teeth. I just don't like them hanging around where my kids play. Black bears rarely attack humans, which means almost never, but not quite never. The difference between 'rarely' and 'never' is a matter of statistics, and my kid will not be a statistic if I can help it.

When the kids were younger, I favoured the final solution, which guaranteed that a rude and uneducated bear never returned. Now that my kids are older, I'm getting soft. I still use my shotgun, but I prefer to negotiate with it rather than send the bear to the eternal blueberry grounds.

This black, furry fellow was just a cocky, know-it-all teenager (in bear years), and had apparently never learned that humans are bad news. Using diplomacy and gunpowder, I planted a slug in the soft lawn next to his front left paw. He responded with a rewarding leap and spin into the air, then hit the ground running. He was a fast learner, and I believe he understood my point of view. He hasn't been back.

Speaking of bears, I was in a bearish, growly mood when I wrote my last blog entry. Bearish and growly moods make words appear on my screen that never would if I were feeling sweet and sentimental. Seeing that I rarely (if ever) feel sweet and sentimental, I won't issue a retraction, but I will qualify a few things that growled their way onto my screen.

First, not all volunteer firefighters toss in the towel. There are many that stick it out for years and years, in spite of lousy equipment, frequent interruptions to home and work life, and lack of appreciation on the part of their employers. I was bearish and growly when I wrote that because it's a shame that the powers that be won't take notice until a whole department tosses in the towel. And even then, I question: do they really care, or do they just want the political problem to go away?

The next non-retraction: it isn't exactly true that no one cares. There is still an element of society that does care. These are the folks that support volunteers however they can, either with their time, or money, or other resources . . . or all three. There are even a few caring and concerned politicians out there, but they are like well mannered black bears. Both exist, but both are endangered species.

Maybe our governments and taxpayers are like that teenaged black bear - they aren't bad, they just need educated.

The Wandering River gals fired a warning shot by the front left paw of the Alberta government, and there was scrambling and noise making in response. Time will tell if any real help will come. For now, I remain bearish and growly . . . and I'm keeping my (figurative) shotgun handy.

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