Three years ago Jerry Ruth, the outdoorsman with a boy name and a girl name, went a-hiking through the Wyoming sagebrush, presumably for fun.
Unfortunately for Mister Ruth, his hike led him into the “turf” of a grizzly bear, who responded by mauling his ass with the unchecked fury of a baby-shaker. We’ve all had such experiences, or at least have a mangled friend or neighbor who has. Many reactionary minds will unfairly stereotype ALL grizzly bears as crazy and violent on the basis of one bad incident, but not Jerry. Jerry wants people and bears to coexist.
While I don’t know exactly what the presence of grizzly bears does to property values and public school rankings, these are clearly not concerns for Jerry. Pumped up with a spirit that could be described as downright proactive, Jerry took to the streets and, “put some pamphlets out to help educate people, to make them more bear aware.” Jerry didn’t specify what arcane aspects of human/bear interaction the community was not already aware of, but he did mention that a Line Creek vacation rental property is frequented by people from neighborhoods that don’t have 700-pound bears running around. Proacting further so as not to be a slouch, Jerryjerrybobeary (GET IT?!) is pushing for the installment of bear bins, which in layman’s terms are dumpsters that are locked and fortified in such a way that grizzly bears cannot loot them. Not that grizzly bears are alone in their habit of taking things that don’t belong to them…the precaution works just as well on seagulls and rogue mice, so I’ll have no accusations of bear-baiting.
Fostering coexistence and interspecies harmony ain’t free, and nobody except Jerry understands this more than a community coordinator. Dusty Lasseter, a community coordinator for an organization called Bear Wise, has (along with the state, naturally) encouraged commissioners to explore ways to help residents acquire bear bins. Meanwhile, in keeping with his balls-out approach to the matter, Jerry went straight to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, who I presume are well paid to do whatever it is that makes us all so proud. At Jerry’s request, the GYC agreed to pay for bear bins for the rental property.
Barbara Cozzens, the coalition’s director, summed up her feelings with the following statement: “The future of grizzlies here still depends on us…our willingness to live with them and our ability to implement innovative programs that reduce conflicts.”
I’m with Barbara. So is Jerry. We are for grizzly bears, their right to live right alongside human people, and the getting’ goin’ of some programs! Far too long has the toxic cloud of misunderstanding and intolerance hovered over the integration of humans and bears. It’s time to let mauling lead to healing. In spite of the perceived physical and social differences between man and bear, I say bears are just like us…though I do wish someone would tell me why they’re so loud.