2008 Happy 2008. Here’s the resolution: Blog
more frequently and consistently.
We’ll start this year with a look back at one of the more
ridiculous stories from last year: Solo the bear.
It’s too bad we’ll actually have to continue watching this story
into 2008, but, hey, what can you do. The long and short of it is
this: There’s a one-eared bear in the Ely area that’s become too
accustomed to humans, some of whom have fed it or otherwise treated
it as if it were a pet rather than a wild animal.
Now, the bear’s hibernating with cubs underneath a cabin, and
the owner wants them removed. The DNR announced it would kill the
human-habituated bear, and relocate the cubs. Reaction was swift
and opposition strong, and the DNR retreated and said it would
relocate Solo along with the cubs.
The story is unfortunate from a couple of perspectives: The bear
apparently has lost its fear of humans, who, similarly, seem to
have lost their fear of the bear. This is not natural.
Though this bear has a name and by many accounts is gentle, it
nevertheless is a wild animal. That means it is unpredictable and
is driven in large part by a desire to eat and a desire to protect
its cubs. I just finished reading the book “Night of the Grizzlies”
– most people discussed in that book didn’t fear the bears in
Glacier National Park, either, until two people were killed in the
same night in 1967.
Would Solo ever kill someone? Maybe. Maybe not. Let’s not find
out. The plan now is for the bear and its cubs to be moved to a
captive facility. Better than being killed, sure, but altogether
different than living in the wild.
It’s hard to blame the bear for acting like it does – that’s
squarely on the shoulders of those who’ve fed it and otherwise
nurtured an environment in which it has no fear of humans – but
allowing it to wake up in the spring and leave its den is asking
for trouble. And that’s a shame, because that’s exactly what it
should be able to do.
All this bear did was react to its environment, but that forced
officials accountable for public safety to decide between two
Now, from the North to the Capitol.
The year also could be one of the biggest for the future of the
outdoors in this state. Legislative leaders have said they’ll pass
a dedicated funding bill early this session (it kicks off Feb.12)
and, if that’s the case, it will be on the ballot Nov. 4. If voters
approve, it would pump an extra $100 million a year into fish and
wildlife habitat, and the same amount for water clean-up. And it
would let the sportsmen and others who’ve pushed the idea for more
than 10 years finally spend some time tending to other matters.