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[pct-l] Bears, authority and the First Amendment

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Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, views and ideals and they can
share them freely -- that's the great thing about America! And, the First
Amendment was written to protect that right.  This board is great and I love
to read the postings, but let's not loose sight of the big picture -- this is
a place for folks with a love of the outdoors to share their thoughts, dreams,
inventions and experiences. I was very disturbed to read the seemingly
personal attacks against some postings. It makes me wonder about the kind of
people I will meet while on the trail -- and now I honestly wonder whether
bears are my greatest concern. Let's keep it constructive...ok? Enough of

So, here's the way I see it. The officials making the rules and requiring the
bear cans and other preventative measures are doing so only to protect the
majority of the outdoor enthusiasts that only get to enjoy the great outdoors
on the weekends or long holidays. Are the officials always right? Nope. It has
been proven time and time again. But, they are trying to protect the many at
the expense of a few. Let's face it, unfortunately, thru-hikers are a
significant minority of the total population that utilizes the outdoors.

Is having to have a bear can a pain for thru-hikers? You bet. I am not looking
forward to having to carry one near the end of my trip (I will be going
North/South). But, will I use one? Sure -- even though hanging my chow up in a
tree has always worked before. But it is my choice. Just as it is my choice to
drive 70 mph in a 60 mph zone.

Animals are much more adaptable than we seem to give them credit for. I know
coyotes are raiding garbage cans, cougars are snacking on dogs and cats
snatched from rural neighborhoods and black bears are discovering that left
out dog food is pretty tasty -- all up and down the West coast. Animals will
go for the food that is easiest to obtain -- period. It is their basic
survival instinct.

Have the bears learned where and how to get an easy meal? Definitely. They are
as epicurean as we are -- though the range of their tastes leans to the bit
ripe (but then again I have never have understood how folks can eat limburger
cheese either). They are not terribly picky about what they eat and
unfortunately that has hurt them a great deal.

Every year, bears (and other wildlife) die from gastric/intestinal blockages
caused by their accidentally ingesting the wrappings, plastics and aluminum
that the food comes in or that has been contaminated by food. Some of it
passes, but a lot of times it just builds up. They can't pass the foreign
material, they go septic and die. But here is the kicker. It takes them a long
time to die -- months. First they use up all of their fat reserves. Then their
bodies start breaking down the muscle tissue. They end up starving, sick and
generally pissed off at the world -- now that is a dangerous bear.

Think people. The cans are to protect people, sure, but they aren't they
really required to protect the bears? People only seem to take action when
they feel they are in danger or their freedoms are being impinged on. So tell
people the cans are for their safety and you protect the bears and a couple of
people too. The bears have been 'trained' by the hikers and campers of the
past that a campsite is a good place to get an easy meal. Shoot, people used
to feed them all the time. They have to be 'untrained.' The only passive (not
painful or forceful) method that the officials have come up with is the cans
and boxes. If there is a better solution, I am sure that they would love to
hear about it.

There are only a few bears left. Is it too much of a hassle to do a little bit
to help keep them?

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