Requiem for a Bear: R.I.P. Number 264
A couple of weeks ago I blogged about watching our friend Bill Campbell’s documentary Season of the Grizzly on Animal Planet (I’d give a link to the blog entry, but Blogger seems to have decided this morning that all of my archives are unavailable. I’ll have to work on that.)
Bill followed bear Number 264 for almost a year and got amazing footage of her and her cubs (although, according to Shannon, the Yellowstone bear biologist who lives two doors down from Bill and Maryanne, Number 264 wasn’t a very good mommy, she kept losing cubs to male bears and accidents). Apparently, Saturday night someone hit Number 264 with a car — she darted into the road, which she was wont to do, and someone hit her. (This alone seems like a good enough reason to me to get rid of all the damn cars in Yellowstone — put people on trams. Also in Yosemite.) Now, I can’t imagine what goes through your head as a driver when you realize you just hit a grizzly bear. It’s not a deer. You can’t get out of the car and go peer into the ditch to see if it’s alive. I mean, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near a wounded grizzly bear. So then what? I imagine the mad scramble in the car through all that literature they give you when you enter the park — the map, the newspaper-like thing that tells about events and recycling — where’s the damn number for calling someone about a wounded grizzly bear? And why can’t I get any cellphone coverage?
At any rate, the authorities did come, and hit her with the tranqilizer gun and took her to Bozeman where xrays showed she’d broken her back. They euthanized her early Sunday morning.
It just sucks on so many levels. The fact that we’ve got cars in the middle of their habitat, and idiot people like the one mentioned in this article who think these aren’t wild animals so it’s okay to go up and touch their cubs, the fact that we’ve so reduced our actual wilderness that we’ve got grizzlies being run over by cars … it’s ridiculous.
So, in memory of Number 264 — go check out Doug Peacock’s
Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness, or Scott McMillion’s
Mark of the Grizzly : True Stories of Recent Bear Attacks and the Hard Lessons Learned, or for a fascinating philosophical meditation on the meaning of wilderness itself, there’s Jack Turner’s wonderful book, The Abstract Wild (a book I can’t say enough good things about, a book that rewards re-reading).