Profiling or labeling is one of the great embarrassments of being human.

Sadly, we not only profile individuals based on how they look, eat or believe,  I see we have stooped so low as to unfairly judge hungry wildlife.  And why not? Of all species on the planet, humans are not only the most judgmental but the sloppiest as well.

A recent piece was published in a local newspaper about a hungry black bear wandering into the nearby city limits of  Cambridge, Minnesota. It did not end well for the bear.

First some background. Bruins learn that we two-leggeds have a keen propensity to be messy with food. Why wouldn’t a winter hungry bear roam into a neighborhood following the promising smells coming from open garbage cans, torn garbage bags, open compost bins topped with yesterday’s leftovers, BBQ grills soaked in bratwurst and burger fat.

Bears are wise in avoiding humans. But once in a while they get used to us. Such a bear is called a habituated bear.  They learn to ignore folks and basically become unafraid of humans. But that doesn’t mean that we become unafraid of them.  Most folks have a deep-rooted fear over large mammals with sharp teeth and claws. They are convinced that the bear will kill them.

Ignorance goes along way in delivering a fear package. Black bears are expert omnivores. They eat alot of plant and alot of protein. But note that much of their protein is garnered from insects such as ant eggs and larvae. Every spring I watch black bears unabashedly slaughter heaps of dandelion blossoms as they graze roadside ditches near our Outpost in the Yukon Territory.

For the record, I am an avid hunter. However, I’ve never been drawn to the idea of shooting a bear because I don’t find it sporting to sit over a pile of greasy and sweet bait foods to wait for a bear.

What if the recently executed Cambridge bear had been visiting such a bait station last fall and managed to avoid getting shot? Now spring comes along and it smells all those delicious odors again. Hurrah easy picking calories just down the street!

Getting into improperly stored human “food” (trash, etc) even just once can start a bear down the path of securing the title “habituated.”It’s far too easy to label such a bear as a nuisance bear. It makes it easy to justify its removal.

In reading the recent short story titled, “Nuisance bear spotted in Cambridge,” the end of the first paragraph states that the bear was “taken care of.”  Usually when something is “taken care of” it means that efforts are made without causing damage. Come on, don’t try and sanitize the act. Be bold, just say up front that the bear was executed for following its nose to our mess.

By labeling a bear as a “nuisance” we can easily justify its removal. We humans are good at that. If the paper had run a title such as, “Beautiful black bear murdered in Cambridge,” I suspect just as many readers would have read it. Its another perspective that is just as accurate as the one printed.

Given that bears, raccoons, skunks, crows and other critters that love our overflowing bird feeders, sloppiness and garbage were here first, should we not consider who the real nuisance is? In all fairness, the paper did go on to give good instructions of the need to keep your premises clean of food temptations for wandering bears.

All I ask is for us to take responsibility for the death of a bear that was looking for an easy meal. You know, kind of like when we dash to a fast food joint for a quick and easy meal.

This is a case where we have met the nuisance and it is us.



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