Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Smarter Than the Average Bear

By Rainbow Starr
Environmental Reporter
NAPLES, FLORIDA - Local authorities are scouring Golden Gate Estates for an escaped grizzly bear.  State wildlife officers and  Collier County deputies are searching on foot, by car and in a low flying helicopter.  That's right. In CB radio jargon, they even have "a bear in the air."
     Everyone is still wondering how the grizzly bear escaped on Tuesday morning.  I'm wondering why there's a grizzly bear in Florida.  It turns out a local resident has permits for the THREE grizzlies that he keeps in a cage behind his house. WHY?  Because he uses them to teach local residents about being safe around grizzly bears.  That's odd.  Smaller black bears live in Florida.  However, there are no grizzly bears in the Florida wilderness... until NOW!  This guy has just created a need for his own seminars, and everyone in Naples is getting a free demo whether they want one or not!
     The man owns an adult Mama bear and two cubs.  Fortunately (and I use the word loosely), the escapee is one of the two-year-old cubs and not the big Mama.  So, the cub, named Boo-Boo, ONLY weighs 125 lbs.  An adult male grizzly can weigh up to ten times more.  Boo-Boo is not aggressive, but authorities are advising area residents not to approach him.  What if Boo-Boo approaches residents?  Local authorities say people shouldn't run away.  In the most questionable public safety tip since "duck and cover," local residents are advised to stand their ground, clap their hands loudly and shout, "Bear Go Home!"
     If the neighbors believe that one, I have some swamp land I'd like to sell them in Florida.  Wait!  They already fell for that one!
     Where did clapping hands as a defensive strategy come from?  Is this one of the safety tips the owner has been teaching in his grizzly bear seminars?  And I thought playing dead was bad advise for surviving a bear attack.  I'll tell you what!  If you and I are walking through Naples and Boo-Boo comes along, you stay and clap.  I'll run like hell.  After you applaud the grizzly bear for mauling you, you should be able to do a VERY convincing job of playing dead.  By the time Boo-Boo Bear is done eating you, I'll have a healthy head start, and he'll be too bloated to catch me. That's my strategy for surviving a bear attack.  Maybe I'll teach my own seminar.
     This is Boo-Boo's first jaunt in the wild, and the two-year-old cub won't know how to survive.  So, nearby residents have been advised to thoroughly secure their garbage.  Authorities hope that Boo-Boo will find his way home.  They are also trying to use his brother, Yogi, to lure him out of the forest.  Based on their names, I'd recommend using picnic baskets as bait, but, hey, what do I know?  The whole clapping thing was news to me ...

This story of Boo-Boo's breakout is concluded in "Every Time He Thinks He's Out, They Pull Him Back In."


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