April 20, 2011 at 10:34am
WORD FOR THE DAY "mischievous" (adj.) 1. maliciously or playfully annoying; 2. causing annoyance, harm, or trouble; 3. roguishly or slyly teasing; 4. harmful or injurious (www.dictionary.com).
Mischievous bears meat out mayhem, impact menu
So how do bruin ruin a walk in the woods? By viewing humans as lunch, that's how. However, sometimes, the feeling is mutual.
This April bear issues have been in the news because of their mischievous behavior, which some individuals link to hunger and climate change. The speculation is that global warming has caused changes to the food chain that have meant bears are looking for food in all the wrong places.
A Virginia Beach neighborhood was visited the first week of April by a wayward 200 lb. bear that wandered about for several hours, checking windows and garbage cans. He was 60 miles from home, lost and looking for food, when police officers drove him up a tree where he was shot with a tranquilizer dart by an official from the U.S. Department of Game and Fisheries. After sleeping it off, the bear (dubbed “Shadow the Bear”) was dropped back into the wild of the Great Dismal Swamp.1. (Yes, Virginia, there really is a “Dismal Swamp.”)
National Public Radio on April 16 shared the story about the two Yellowstone bear attacks, which took place last year. The first was thought an accident; however, the other was not. A visibly starving mother bear killed a park visitor because she was famished and needed to feed her three cubs. According to the story, the natural foods of the bears’ diet – pine seeds and trout from the streams – were scarce. Why? Due to excessive heat and dryness, pine beetles have infested and killed the pine trees (80% of them in Yellowstone, says writer Paul Solotaroff), reducing the yield of pine seeds. Fish have died because the water in the streams is too warm for the trout. All this links back to climate changes, says Solotaroff, contributing editor of Men’s Journal and Rolling Stone Magazine, who wrote about climate change this April 5 (You can read the entire article at http://www.mensjournal.com/the-ghost-park.). Solotaroff calls the situation “an ecosystem in collapse.”
However, the Yellowstone Park staff disagrees with his explanation, saying there’s really not enough data to make that determination.
Well, a determined Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took a step this April to ensure the polar bear population in his country will survive climate change and human encroachment by banning this year’s hunt. According to the Associated Press article from April 14, around 100 bears are killed yearly, mostly by indigenous people who consume them and use their hides.
So, predator or prey, the lot of the bear would appear to be precarious. Ditto for humans who sometimes find themselves in the lunch line or on the menu.
“Virginia Beach bear captured” WTKR-TV 3, April 8, 2011
“Shadow the Bear Safely Released”
“Russia bans endangered polar bear hunt this year,” Thursday, April 14, 2011, Associated Press