Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nature comes a-calling

Not long ago, I mentioned a bobcat that was shot in nearby Cottonwood after mauling a customer in a local bar. Well, nature's sharp and toothy reality came by for a visit again, this time in the form of a young bear. The bear wandered around the area, took down a goat for supper, and was finally shot by Game and Fish.

I'm sorry the bear was shot, I really am. I don't shoot rattlesnakes if I can just walk around them, and I don't like rattlers half as much as I like bears.

But the bear's fate was sealed about the time it tore a goat into snack-sized pieces and went looking for more.

Verde Sante Fe, the development where the bear was first sighted, is about three miles from my house. It's an odd bit of suburbia surrounded by desert and grazing cattle. I have to pass the development on my way to and from home.

The hills behind the development, into which the bear wandered, are where I used to run my dogs before I picked a spot closer to home. I ride my mountain bike on the jeep roads back there. Those hills are actually nearly unbroken Forest Service land leading straight to my house and the surrounding area. They're absolutely beautiful and full of wildlife.

Basically, we're up close and personal with nature. And, sometimes, nature is hungry.

It's easy for people who live at a distant remove from forest, desert and fur to get all misty-eyed about the denizens of the wilderness. People who actually live here can love the wild every bit as much, but rarely romanticize it to such an unrealistic extent. Ultimately, the animals with which we rub shoulders pose a potential danger to our pets, our livestock, our children and ourselves.

Usually, I put a .22 in my pocket when I run my dogs or take my kid on a hike. But bear ... This week, I traded my popgun for my .357. I hope I don't have to use it. But at least I'll have it handy.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Said JD. Interestingly, its a good thing you don't (like me) live in the People's Socialist Republic of NJ.... We're just putting the finishing touches on disarming all of law abiding citizens. Definitely no carrying anything in your pocket here... Only Thugs and criminals can carry guns here--- matter of fact, that's why stories like this: can and do occur regularly "without a single shot being fired.." Keep up the fight my friend... -Mike.

June 19, 2009 5:59 PM  
Blogger akaGaGa said...

I basically agree with you, but as my husband and I prepare to build a house in the woods, I have to wonder how much of their habitat we can put off limits without a critter revolt.

June 19, 2009 6:18 PM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...

I share your concerns about pushing so far into nature that we leave too little room for the wildlife. I'm not too worried that we'll subdivide the wilderness here, though. The federal government, all by itself, owns a whopping 48% of Arizona. (By contrast, the feds own 0.8% of New York.) Overall, public lands (PDF) make up more than half of Arizona and about 37% of New York.

Even if we wanted to build everywhere and no private trust was interested in putting land aside (an unlikely assumption), that should leave plenty of places wild.

June 20, 2009 7:04 AM  

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