This isn't our usual "Shades of Gray" exchange. We decided to give it a rest for this month. But I do feel the need to comment on last weeks Wasatch Behind column by Tom McCourt, "Bothered by the bears".
While I agree with him on many aspects of his editorial on bears, the premise that we need to eliminate any species that threatens us is ludicrous. We tried that and found out that it didn't work. Species are reintroduced back into areas to help balance eco-systems not to make warm fuzzies for the "greenies."
Despite the news stories that make these attacks seem common, thousands flock to the wild every given weekend and survive without even a close encounter. More die each weekend getting to and from their camp sites in car accidents.
ATV accidents are also more prevalent than wild animal attacks during the summer. We surely don't look to outlaw or ban the use of those to stop deaths.
It is correct that we have encroached and invaded on the bears and the cougars to the point that we have squeezed them into smaller and smaller territories. I know it is un-American to ask, "How many second and third McMansions does one person need in our foothills and resort areas?" The more we push into areas that were formally wild habitat, the more encounters we will have.
Our society craves wilderness experiences. We buy property next to and in the wildest areas we can afford. We load up en mass every chance we get with our campers and tents to seek privative experiences with our families and friends.
Oddly enough, we head out and carry most of the comforts of home with us. We cannot go into the wild and bring our urban bad habits with us and expect not to have problems. The sad thing is that once groups establish a feeding ground for wild things, groups that follow can suffer the consequences no matter how clean they keep their site.
Taking precautions is the prudent thing to do. Having a gun along when you are out, especially when you are alone in bear and cougar country in one strategy.
My recent bear encounter was real enough to keep me acutely aware of the dangers associated with back country adventure. I do not take it lightly.
The outcome to our incident was one that could have been very different if the wrong factors had come into play. I knew the risks and we had several discussions about bear and cougar the entire trip.
Coming off the river, hours after the bear came into our camp, we were greeted with the news of the death of the young boy. I have great sympathy for the family, but I cannot justify the wholesale slaughter of anything to sanitize the world of risk to us.
Before we put a bounty on the head of every bear in the state, let's keep some sanity about us. Please be careful and safe as you venture out in the wild this summer. Keep your campsite clean and your food secured in your car or hung up away from your sleeping areas. Don't venture out alone if possible.
Clean up your trash and secure it every night. Be careful of the food litter that can gather under the picnic tables and food prep areas.
And last know that life is about risk. Don't run scared, but understand the level of risk you are taking on and be prepared.