New policy on bears is misguided

Posted: Thursday, July 05, 2001

Having lived in Juneau for some years now, I probably shouldn't be incredulous at the actions of city officials, yet here I am baffled again. Is there any splinter group of people in this small city that we don't pay heed to?

The latest example of complete idiocy (in what seems to be an endless cycle of idiotic policy decisions) is the new directive from our esteemed city manager curtailing the activities of our police department in dealing with problem bears. It is absolutely baffling beyond belief that homeowners and residents now apparently have to put up with the destruction of their property and the endangerment of their domesticated pets all in the name of protecting a large wild animal that might have erroneously decided that garbage is preferable to berries as a diet mainstay.

I don't hunt. It's a little hard for me to understand the challenge involved in tramping into bear's habitat to kill one of them with a high-powered weapon, all in the name of making me feel like a true "hunter/gatherer." Until Super Bear, Foodland and Carrs (Safeway) run out of food, "I eat what I kill" as a premise for destroying these animals in the wild won't wash either.

What in the world gets us to this inane idea that wild bears should be allowed to rip up garbage sheds, wanagans or pets? And why in the world do we need yet another committee obviously formed around the concept that common sense should be subject to the interpretations and permutations that could only have come from Area 51 itself.

This new policy has obviously had a chilling effect on the actions of the police in dealing with these animals. Who is going to stand ready to take the blame when some child is killed or injured by a bear that, just moments earlier, had not been an "immediate threat?" Who do we see about that, Agent X or the city manager?

Get real folks. Juneau isn't built on a bear habitat, it now exists on a former bear habitat. Bear activities and people activities just don't mix. Enforce the garbage statutes - fine; but unless we're ready to cede this city back over to these creatures, we need to accept the fact that we are going to have to kill some of them as they come into conflict with the normal activities of our residents. It simply isn't safe to do otherwise. And have the guts to tell people who can't understand that they are the ones who are misguided.

Phil Gillespie


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