On its face, a news report out of Alaska about a man’s tussle with a black bear seems to have a happy ending, inasmuch as both survived the encounter. The truth of the matter is that the bear is alive, fortunately, in large part because the human in question made it painfully (if you’ll pardon the pun) obvious that he deserved a decent mauling. It also helped that the exact location of the incident is unknown and therefore local authorities don’t know where the bear might be.
Unfortunately, the lack of such information hasn’t always stopped local law-enforcement officials from murdering the first potential suspect they come across, as I pointed out in my June 10 commentary, “Alaska Man Mauled by Bear, Troopers Kill First Suspect They See.”
To paraphrase information provided in a June 16 Anchorage Daily News article, a drunk guy at a church outing on Saturday, June 15, grabbed a bunch of barbecued animal flesh, took off on a bicycle, and, upon encountering a bear, decided to share his meal.
For his trouble, the god-fearing sot — who “may be charged with illegally feeding wildlife,” according to the Anchorage Daily News report (I put the word “may” in parentheses to emphasize that the man should be punished for endangering the bear’s life) — suffered a few superficial wounds, and probably a brutal hangover.
And while Ken Marsh, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, was quoted in the Anchorage Daily News story as saying “the bear was pretty much goaded into this,” I’m not convinced that the creature would have been so quickly and rightly absolved had he or she seriously or fatally injured the reckless drunk.
Had that happened, we might be lamenting the bear’s undeserved execution.