Sunday, September 5, 2010

how many is too many

Stand back. I am on a tear. A bear tear.

I started this post last week. It was supposed to be all about bears. At last count, six of them had been "euthanized" (go ahead; say SHOT) in this county this season. Why, you may ask. Well, if you ask the DOW (Department Of Wildlife), the damn critters got what they deserved. After all, they were caught raiding kitchens, cars and garbage cans. If you ask me, the problem is people, not bears. People who leave the kitchen window open, JuicyFruit gum in their cars, and a regular smorgasbord of goodies out in their smelly trash every single night. Can you say, bait? So which is worse? Bears in the bushes or the DOW? I won't go into the details of the latest encounter, but trust me, it's a horrific story. Here's the short version:

For weeks, this sow and her 4-month-old cub had been pilfering jelly donuts (garbage) in an alley a few blocks from my house. I dogwalk in the early morning and would see unending upended cans every single day. On the first of September, the dog and I heard a neighbor's quiet "watch out for the bear". I looked up and saw these two.

Here's the mug shot of the latest ursine culprits:

Sanitas bear

Hours later, the DOW decided the injured mother couldn't adequately care for her cub, shot her and the cub escaped. The best you could say is that they bungled the job. As far as I know, no one has found the poor little guy yet.

I hate helpless; I had to do something. So off I went to Kinko's to have flyers printed. Every morning, I shove one into the gaping maw of every stinking garbage can we come across. Of course, the same people who harbor reeking refuse have no problem trashing the flyers every night.

I generally tend to think that there's just too damn many people. Just like I hate being helpless, I sometimes also hate being right. Case in point: As I headed home from the store this morning, I thought I saw a small curl of smoke behind Mt. Sanitas, the same mountain which is on the western edge of Boulder and backs right up to our neighborhood. In the five minutes it took to get home, the I'm-sure-now-famous wildfire was filling the sky over our backyard with smoke.

Here's the roof of my studio.
I'm going to go ahead and hope the fire's not as close as it looks.

In another ten minutes, the bright sunny day was blanketed
by a thickening layer of acrid smoke,
and ash fell like light snow.

This fire is awful. We always knew it could happen, especially during a hot, dry season like this. Every house, every ranch and every mountain town in the 20 miles west of here has been evacuated. Every canyon road is closed, the wind is gusting up to 65 miles per hour, and the smoke cloud can be seen from Wyoming 200 miles down to Colorado Springs.

I feel truly sorry for everyone fleeing this monster. But while people are being told to take their animals to the County Fairgrounds, I can't help but wonder who told the wild things where to go. I can't help but worry about that little cub.


Shelley Smart said...

RE: the fire. In the 90's I lived up Lefthand Canyon in Pinebrook, and always, always worried in the fall that a fire would begin while I was at work in Broomfield, and my animals would be trapped. It is a horrible situation for all animals, bears and all.

They make Bear Bins for trash storage (a relative sells them in Truckee, CA, where bears are also much too comfortable with human trash). I suggest them as a solution for Boulder, as well.

I enjoy your blog!

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Are you in the path of the fire? Yikes! Growing up in SoCal, I had my share of wildfires on windy days. Our house was bordered by a stand of eucalyptus trees (planted for a wind break) and they are so full of oil it was like torches when they caught fire.

About the bears ... you describe a terrible situation! Thoughtless people don't consider the consequences of their actions. This is just another example of the terrible effects of narcissism.

SamArtDog said...

Pinebrook was evacuated, but as of tonight, seems okay. And I just saw one of the new bear bins which EcoCycle is now offering. Yay! I couldn't get into it at all. Of course, I may not be as smart as your average bear.

We're fine, The fire simply will not be allowed into town. Period. However, it's not contained yet. But once the slurry bombers could fly this afternoon, they made a good dent in the fire. More will fly tomorrow. Over 1000 houses were evacuated, and though no one knows how many, several burned. It'll take days to let people go home again.

Janelle Goodwin said...

Such a sad story, Sam. Poor bears, they're only doing what comes naturally. Good for you for actually trying to do something about it.

I've never had any experience with wildfires, it's something we only read about. Stay safe and keep us up to date, please!

Melinda said...
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Sonya Johnson said...

How sad about the bears...we had a similar issue with a mountain lion when I lived in Flagstaff years ago; AZ F&G "had" to destroy him because people insisted on walking their dogs, off leash, on the trails (not near homes at all) during early morning, when lions hunt. It was so sad.

How unfortunate about the fire, and the homes that were destroyed. I hope they get it contained quickly!

Jala Pfaff said...

I'm still so sad about that little bear cub (not to mention all wild things).
Looks like I'm not leaving town 'till the 13th.
I'm having trouble breathing. I feel like an asthmatic. Is anyone else having this much trouble breathing since the fire, or do I need to go to the hospital or something??

SamArtDog said...

Though the smoke was awful this morning, the blessed slurry bombers seem to be making headway this afternoon. I love hearing them, even of they sound like they're landing in the livingroom. At least I have a livingroom! But I think we've got days to go. If you can't breathe, they say you should go to the hospital.

Melinda said...
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Kathy Hodge said...

Good for you for putting out those flyers. What is wrong with people? I have the same issues with people who can't manage their trash, even though it's only fox and raccoons they need to guard against.

SamArtDog said...

I'm so glad (and encouraged) to hear you're there. I follow your blog and think your stuff is remarkable. I could make comparisons, but I'm sure you've heard them all before. Thankfully, someone in the Parks Service had the brains to give you those residencies. Just knowing that some people are out there painting the world gives hope. To me, you're one of those "some people".