Bears, bugs and drunken drivers

Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2001

Sometimes I wonder about the priorities established by our Juneau government. A case in point is the so-called "bear problem." Some people seem to go bananas if they see a bear, but if there is a problem it's human hysteria, not a bear problem. A recent television program on human fatalities caused by wildlife listed bears as the No. 10 killer of humans. At No. 10, bears kill, on the average, six humans per year worldwide. The No. 1 killer (snakes, of which there are none in Alaska) kills 100,000 people per year. The No. 2 killer (bees/wasps, of which there are none in Alaska) kills 10,000 people per year. By those figures, Alaskans are much more likely to be killed by a bee or wasp than they are to be killed by a bear. If committees are needed, a bee or wasp committee may be more in order than a bear committee. I suppose, however, it would be difficult to recruit volunteers for a "bug committee." How much glory would there be in chairing the "bug committee"? The Juneau Empire wouldn't allot any print to "bug sightings" and KTOO wouldn't air interviews with someone who had been stung by a bee.

There is, however, a big killer in Alaska. A killer that receives a lot of newspaper print but not nearly enough judicial action. That killer is the drunk driver! Few, if any, Juneauites can name anyone killed by a bear but probably several hundred Juneauites can name a person that was killed by a drunk driver. Nearly every day the Empire prints the names of local drivers who were arrested for drunk driving. Alongside the drunk driver list are reports of vandals breaking windows, slashing tires and smashing mailboxes. Next in line are the reports of criminals breaking into houses and rifling cars.

Where are Juneau's priorities? Shouldn't drunk drivers, vandals and criminals rate higher on the "danger scale" than bears? Come on councilmen, use some common sense! Pull the police officers off the bear calls and give them more time policing criminals. If committees have to be formed, make them committees on stopping drunk drivers and catching criminals. I feel that the police time could be better spent chasing bad guys. I will police my own garbage.

Lowell S. Barrick


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