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Bears animals to be respected, but shouldn't cause abject terror or teddy bear adoration
By Rob Hedelt
THE RECENT story about a bear who took a liking to a Spotsylvania County family's bird feeder got me to thinking about the big, powerful animals.
Namely, how some folks see them in extreme ways--though not the Spotsylvania family, which seemed quite rational in their handling of the furry visitor.
No, the incident simply made me think about two very different takes some have to the animal at the top of the local wildlife food chain.
They're either downright terrified to hear that one's nearby, or lulled into thinking that the big, powerful animals are as cuddly and safe to be around as teddy bears.
The terrors have turned up in some local neighborhoods when black bears have been drawn by pet food, trash or simply wandered through en route from one territory to another.
I've seen the teddy bear take at Shenandoah National Park and other locations from people convinced that the big, beautiful animals are somehow friendly because they're furry, pretty and on protected ground.
Indeed, a ranger at Shenandoah shared the story a while back about visitors years ago to one of the picnic areas.
When a bear wandered by, surely lured by the smell of open food, a father turned to a mom and suggested that they have the daughter take a doughnut over to lure the bear for a picture.
Here's a different way to think about it, Dad: Why not just smear some barbecue sauce on little Suzie's head so she can be a bear-size appetizer?
Another time, I was on a trail at Shenandoah when, off a ways, I heard the sound of a big animal moving through the underbrush. Backing up the hill, away from the sound, I was thrilled to see a mother bear and two cubs cross the trail I'd been on.
The mom eyeballed me, but because I'd backed up and moved away, went on her way.
As I continued on up the trail, I ran into a group of school kids on a field trip.