Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bears have the right of way

I saw a story recently where wildlife officials were warning the motoring public to be cautious of bears.
Do we really need an official warning for that? When you drive the mountain roads and highways of B.C., shouldn’t you watch for bears all of the time?
It’s not like when you hit a gopher or something. With a gopher there’s a small thump and another groundhog is off to rodent heaven.
Hitting a 500-pound black bear would be a little more traumatic to you and your car.
I have never hit a bear in a car before. However, having lived my entire life in B.C., I have had vehicular interaction with a variety of other animals.
I have hit the aforementioned gopher in the past, as well as a squirrel, a couple of coyotes, a deer and I even had a seagull fly into the grill of my car once.
Now, this creature has the ability to fly and can soar through the heavens at will. Instead, this one decided it was much better to fly two-feet off the ground where it had an up close and personal experience with the front bumper of my motorized carriage.
That is natural selection at its finest. Natural selection is where nature weeds out the weak, the lame, and in this case, the stupid.
The deer was not too bright either. It was in Northern B.C. a couple summers ago and this critter – which some consider nature’s cow and we all know how smart they are – was running along the side of the road.
I slowed down as I neared the beast, which is good because it made far too much sense to the deer to stay on the side of the road or even run off into the woods. Noooo, it was a much better idea to turn 90 degrees onto the road and run head first into the side of my van. That is the kind of stupid that impresses us all.
So technically, I didn’t hit the deer as much as the deer hit me. There was a little thump as it bounced off the side of my van before it altered its course and took off into the woods.
“Great plan genius. Maybe next time you could skip the whole smashing into a vehicle thing and just go straight to the running into the woods part. I’ll be seeing you during hunting season.”
I am sure he had quite a story to tell his little deer friends when he got back into the woods.
“Man, you should have seen it. There was this big, green beast with bright eyes and a hard shell. I hit that sucker as hard as I could and the last I saw of it, it was taking off down the highway knowing it messed with the wrong deer.”
The closest I have ever come to hitting a bear was when my dad and I were coming back from a fishing trip when I was a wee lad.
We were driving a little Toyota truck and we had just rounded a corner on a dirt road deep in the woods when my dad jammed on the brakes.
Standing in the middle of the road was the largest bear I had ever seen in my life. Growing up in a rural setting, I had seen quite a few bears over the years, but none were as big as this hombre.
It was the first and only time I have seen a grizzly bear in the wild, and it was one of the coolest things I have ever witnessed.
This guy was the top of the food chain and it was easy to see why.
Upon seeing the size of this thing I realized I would never have to worry about being killed by a bear, because if this one came charging at me, I would die of a heart attack long before he managed to get his massive paws on me.
The bear was casually sauntering down the middle of the road and when we pulled up behind him. He just kind of turned his head toward us with a look of, “Yeah, and what are you gonna do about it,” and kept meandering along without a care in the world.
This guy knew he was the king of the mountain and I am sure he could have totaled the truck with a single swat.
The bruin walked another 20 metres along the road before heading down a trail that led to a creek, still completely unconcerned about the presence of the tiny pink creatures in the little blue truck.
My dad and I looked at each other, both realizing we had just seen something rather magical in the majesty of such a creature, and both being happy he was not having a bad day and felt like beating up a Toyota.
Needless to say, the next time we went fishing in that area, we paid a little more attention to the shoreline in case our friend decided the fish we had caught would make a better snack for him than a meal for us.
And believe me, if he wanted the fish, he could have them. He could also have the keys to the truck, our credit cards, our fishing poles and the boat if he wanted.
Who am I to argue?

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