Them baar's is back!
I'm having trouble getting Elmer Fudd out of my head. Every time I think about this black bear population management initiative, I see Elmer, floppy eared hunting cap tilted to one side, ambling up and down the hills of Garrett County.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm a big Second Amendment guy. I'm hung up on the language thing, though. The phrase "population management initiative" gives me the creeps. It seems to me guys like Saddam and Idi Amin have tried those initiatives before.
The environmental/animal rights whackos call it a "trophy hunt," so the wildlife management types countered with something technical. Calling it the "Yogi and Boo Boo carcass hootenanny" would most likely upset the little ones. Similarly, the "Western Maryland Smokey the Bear Invitational" just doesn't work.
So the battle lines are drawn. On one side is the good ol' bear, ambling around his little 24-square-mile territory, plundering garbage cans and campsites. On the other is Elmer, grubby little tobacco-stained fingers shoved deep in the pockets of his blaze orange overalls.
If that weren't visual enough, add in the hundreds of media types, most of whom have never been west of Montgomery County, much less in the mountains of western Maryland.
That poor first dead bear, lying on the floor of the inspection station, surrounded by 20 camera operators, with one reporter's microphone sticking towards the dead bear has got to be one of my favorite pictures. What did that reporter expect - the bear to offer a comment?
"Not a great day today," Ms. Bear commented from beyond the grave (or something to that affect). "Now I'll have to endure some yuppie's smelly feet (or worse) in my fur as I lie in front of a fireplace," she groaned posthumously.
This was a media event made in TV heaven, at least as far as the DC and Baltimore area media markets go. Poor little bears, killed in their prime by barbarians tromping through the woods.
Some of the cameramen have that look on their faces. Oh, come on, you know what I mean. That "I'd-rather-be-shaving-the-back-hair-off-of-Uncle-Leo-than-doing-this" look. I can't imagine how unpleasant that day must have been. Up at the crack of dawn, camping out at the Natural Resources office awaiting that first glimpse of Elmer, dragging that first lucky (?) carcass.
Once the footage is shot, the reporter and camera team rush back to DC to put together the report. "Today, the mountains of Maryland ran red with bear blood," a dramatic voice intones. "Hunters from around the region took part in Maryland's first bear hunt in decades." Cut to the first glimpse of Elmer, covered head-to-toe in blaze orange, picking his teeth (or nose or pants seat), standing proudly over Yogi.
In hundreds of family rooms around the DC metro area, parents simultaneously grab for the remote to switch to Barney or SpongeBob.
I guess they think the approach is more inhumane than the method of deer management that has become so popular throughout our region. You know, the deer/automobile management method.
My daughter Cassie nailed one on Route 340 west of Petersville. The deer hit the front side of her Hyundai Tiberon, bounced off, hit the rear side again, and bounced over the trunk. Thousands of dollars in damage, but the deer got up and ran away. Deer one, Hyundai zero!
The closest most DC metro area residents get to a bear is to watch Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing roll around eating bamboo at the National Zoo. They're really cute and cuddly when they're separated from you by plexiglas and steel bars.
Having Ling Ling looking in at you from the back porch is another matter entirely. Having Yogi trade in his picnic basket for your trashcans adds a whole new spin to "communing with nature."
The animal rights nuts (sorry, I meant advocates) refer to these situations as "rare," and label them "human/wildlife conflicts." Excuse me, but I don't want any conflicts with wildlife in my yard! I'm still recovering from chopping the head off a copperhead in my front flower garden with a shovel a few years back.
I've decided that these advocates (got it right this time) are happy to bemoan these rare conflicts because they occur somewhere else and involve someone else. If Gentle Ben were rooting through Alan Animal Advocate's vegetable garden, he'd probably be grabbing his gun and sighting up a kill shot.
Uh oh, I forgot, he'd have to borrow a gun from a neighbor. In fact, he might just be better off having his neighbor take the shot for him.
Elmer needs the practice for the next population management initiative!