Barrington bear poses real threat

On the subject of the bear: Everyone knows that we have a bear on the hill in Great Barrington. In fact, everyone in town seems to be talking about it. It has knocked over garbage cans, twisted bird feeders into pretzels and scared family members half to death when they saw it — and that’s just at my house.

We have heard a lot of first-hand testimony about the bear. We’ve been instructed not to panic. We’ve been told not to make sudden moves. We know we’re not supposed to feed him. We are keeping our bird feeders in and not putting our trash out on the curb the night before the early collection.

I recognize that many of you believe it is arrogant for us to deny bears, raccoons, wolves, coyotes, bobcats and the rest of the local fauna the right to share our space. After all, they certainly were here first. We were the ones who invaded their space.

Unfortunately, the news that a hiker was recently killed by just such a bear gives me pause. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have had second thoughts, too. Our neighborhood is filled with children who play out in their yards and streets. The bear is becoming more and more emboldened and it would just take just a few seconds for it to attack a toddler or a mother with a baby carriage. I would hate to have to write a second column on this subject starting with the words, “I told you so.”

Apparently, the police have been contacted about the bear and don’t seem concerned enough to follow up and apprehend or (gasp) shoot it.

It has long seemed to me that there are ways to deal with the situation. Perhaps the bear could be darted, sedated and moved to another area. We all know that the Berkshires are replete with brilliant laws stipulating that we can catch critters like skunks and groundhogs but we can’t move them from our property, perhaps on the assumption that I would move a creature from my yard and put it somewhere else and that would just start a chain reaction. Now we all know people who have caught and moved these bad boys but they don’t write columns critiquing the police from time to time, if you get my drift.

Presumably, I can off the creature but not move it. I am sure that there are very good reasons for this but it seems kind of loony to me. I am going to stick my neck out and suggest that the town does something about the bear.

After all, the police have a monopoly on firepower. We taxpayers shell out for all those guns and now the federal government is handing out excess equipment like tanks and all kinds of weapons that might help with the task. Let’s just understand that it is our obligation to keep funding the defense industry to make all these things that we really don’t need. I suspect that all those armaments aren’t meant to be used for picking up middle class drivers who go a few miles over the speed limit.

Of course, and I can’t help this (I’m sorry), the Constitution gives us the right to bear arms. That means that either we have to go around with short sleeves or the bears deserve the arms so that they can shoot back. So come on, people, let’s get with the program. Let’s acknowledge the fact that we need to corral this critter.

While we’re at it, let’s tackle some of the other conservation issues, like the overrun of skunks we have all over the Berkshires. There is still the problem of rabies to be considered, as well as the issues surrounding our cats and dogs. We can kid around but this bear presents a serious threat.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 9/29/14

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