This is an open letter to the bears of Anchorage. Every bruin should read.
Dear Yogi and Boo-boo:
Apparently, you didn’t get the memo on home surveillance cameras. They’re now everywhere in Alaska’s largest city.
See that video above? That’s you, Yogi, in Midtown in a video shared on social media to alert the whole neighborhood.
You guys got pretty good at sneaking around without being seen, I know. But technology has changed everything.
A wolverine. Can you imagine that? There are only a handful of wolverines in the whole Front Range of the Chugach Mountains and one gets caught on a surveillance camera in a residential neighborhood.
But this isn’t about them. It’s about you.
You’re scaring the hell out of people.
Yes, that’s right. You’re scaring the hell out of people.
Don’t take it personally. It’s not that Alaskans don’t like their bears. They just expect their bears to stick to the wild.
Think about how people feel now. The city folk thought they were secure in the “bear-free” parts of Anchorage, and then boom!
You appear in their surveillance videos and the whole bubble bursts.
Now they’re afraid to go out at night. Bears could be anywhere.
I understand you’re not planning to eat anyone, but they don’t know that. And you’ve got to admit you could eat them if you wanted.
Yes, you’ve passed up hundreds of opportunities. I commend you for that.
Humans are easy targets. They aren’t nearly as alert or as strong as moose. And lord knows, a bunch of folks are layered in fat, which I know you love.
Your restraint in avoiding the temptation to go after them the way cops attack donuts is admirable, but it is also irrelevant because the few bad apples among you have made a mess for all.
Your kin killed Alaskans in 2017 and again last year. Humans have legitimate reasons to be worried. Your teeth and claws are bigger than theirs.
In a fair fight, the odds are on your side. Sure, you could run into a human with a gun and lose, but most Anchorage residents aren’t regularly “packin’,” as they say, which is what makes them freak out when they discover you’re living in their neighborhood like some unpredictable, homeless werewolf.
No, no. I’m not accusing you of being anything like a werewolf. I’m just drawing an analogy to one of those things humans irrationally fear.
Werewolves don’t exist anywhere but in the imagination, but humans fear them anyway.
Fear of the known
Before these cameras came along, you didn’t exist even in the imagination of the city folk. Sure the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put together a fancy map covered with dots for where a satellite had recorded your radio-collared cousins roaming in the state’s largest city.
But those weren’t real bears. Those were dots on a map. Nobody’s afraid of dots on a map.
Dots on a map. Big deal.
But when you show up in a real video on an actual surveillance camera put up to warn people of the dangers lurking in the dark….
One day you don’t exist, even in the imagination. The next, you’re the deadly stalker of the night.
Thanks to technology, people now know you really are out there. You’re not just those wet grizzly bear tracks across my neighbor’s driveway that could be dismissed as something less than a “real” bear even if they represented a very real bear.
Now, you’re the threat lurking in the grass somewhere in the neighborhood greenbelt during the day, the danger that only comes out at night, the Bearpire or a Vampar that might snatch someone.
And a threat like this in the mind is often a whole lot scarier than a threat in reality.
So do us all a favor and stay away from these cameras. Generally, you should be safe on the street. Most people adjust their cameras to work at some distance shorter than that so they aren’t triggering a photo of every neighborhood car rolling past.
Street-side doors are a lot more likely to have surveillance than any other part of the house, too. So avoid them. If you must wander through someone’s yard, wander through the backyard.
Stay away from front doors, driveways and decks, especially decks.
When people find out you’ve been strolling around on the deck checking out the sweet smell of the barbeque, they freak out! The deck is like part of their home. It’s almost as bad as your opening the door and strolling inside.
And whatever you do, DON’T DO THAT!
Alaska had a stand-your-ground law that applied specifically to you long before anyone even mentioned the idea of stand-your-ground laws. Actually getting into the house is likely to punch your ticket to that big bear meadow in the sky.
Alaskans love their bears at a distance and in the wild, you see. But up close and personal, you scare us. And we usually try to eliminate the things that scare us.