Monday, July 10, 2006

Juneau's Crime Scene

The Juneau Empire has a section for all of the public safety calls in the last 24 hours. This includes police, fire, and animal control. For Monday, July 10, 2006:

1 domestic violence complaint
1 assault
2 minor vandalisms to vehicles
1 theft
2 vehicle accidents
2 underage drinking
3 bears wandering downtown

Notice that the single largest category is bears. They don't hurt us, we seldom hurt them. If they become too habituated, they have to be trapped and moved to an island where there are few if any people; a bear who is too habituated gets too close to where people are and is innocently minding her own business, and along comes a person, also innocently minding her own business, and they round the corner and face each other and it can be bad for the person. So, the decision has been that it must, instead, be not so good for the bear. We try really hard not to make it bad for the bear.

However, a few years before I moved here, one bear wandered into a local grocery store. Discovered that the doors would open for him. All the people ran away. The bear chowed down in produce and meat and deli and dairy and opened a large number of boxes of cereal and packages of chips and even cake mix and instant mashed potatoes. And when he waddled back out into the parking lot, they shot him. Once a bear learns that he can get into a food source like that, it is all over. The one comfort is that he died happy.

One year a bear came to my daughter-in-law, Kathy's, birthday celebration. As I was crossing the street to her house, I heard a noise and looked over, and Brother Bear was crossing one house over. I climbed Kathy and Richard's stairs, he climbed the neighbor's stairs. When we came out of the house to go to the restaurant, the bear was eating bird seed out of Kathy's bird feeder. Later that same week, a child's birthday party was being held in a backyard across the street from my office (three blocks from R & K's house), and as the mother brought the cake out, the bear followed her. She got the kids and left. And, since she really had no choice but to leave the cake behind, we now had another bear associating people and food in a very dangerous way. They had to shoot that one, too.

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