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October 8, 2012
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Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: Scared to death of a bear

My college daughter, Rachel, was trail running last fall in Durango when a momma bear and a cub crossed her path.

Rachel stopped and signaled her friend behind her to stop and stay calm. Momma bear and college girl, maybe 10 feet apart, eyed each other a moment, and momma bear continued on her way, cub tucked up close.

If Rachel had a gun, and was into that sort of thing, here was the time to use it.

The big, rugged man on his porch in the Eby Creek Mesa subdivision, unfortunately, did have a gun.

I'm certain that he and the bear would have been just fine if a rifle weren't so handy and he had just shut his sliding glass door.

It's not as if the bears around here are exactly grizzlies.

They require respect, of course, as do all large wild animals.

But how is it that so many of us can hike, bike and run unarmed and without worry while a guy on his porch is so terrified he believes his only choice is to blow away the bear instead of simply stepping back into his home?

Does having a gun somehow make you more fearful instead of less so? Or is it the other way around - there's lions and (who knows, maybe) tigers and bears, oh my? Chickens buy guns?

But this is wrong thinking. A lot of us who live here have firearms, mainly for hunting. Almost none of us would have shot the bear. Only the combination of weapon and intent to use it on the porch add up to the dead bear and her cubs left on their own.

Still, I can't help but wonder: Girl in the woods has a reason to fear the bear but doesn't. Grownup man a step or two from his door has no real reason to fear the bear but does.

What's wrong with that picture?

Certainly, even black bears can be dangerous, enough so that on rare occasion they do break into homes or tents, and they have killed people. They're not pets.

Bears visit our place, too, down along Eby Creek itself. As do mountain lions. One took a deer just 100 feet beyond the back door and ate it there. That'll make your neck hairs stand on end. Another got our neighbor's sheep one year.

Still, we've never considered arming up.

Respect for and fear of the wildlife run on the same spectrum, I think.

Maybe my daughter and the rest of us in our family run a risk on those trails we love so much. Considering no one has been mauled here - ever - we'll take our chances, though.

Why would someone so frightened of the wilds he'd shoot from his porch choose to live in them?

The bear was the lesser danger.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2920.


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The VailDaily Updated Oct 8, 2012 04:28PM Published Oct 8, 2012 04:27PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.