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If Nature Calls, Hang Up (The title of this Column was Stolen from Pat McManus)
Outdoors Outpost
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 • Posted July 4, 2012

If you, like many Americans, sometimes leave the confines of your home, you definitely need to be on the lookout for bears. Matter of fact, even if you don’t leave home, I’d check the broom closet and behind the couch periodically. You never know.

There is a very good reason for such precautions. Bears are becoming more aggressive and less afraid of humans. Which would not be a problem if we were talking about, say, kittens, or hamsters. But when you’re talking about a species of animal capable of snapping your neck like a toothpick with a knothole in it, more aggressive is a bad thing.

Ponderosa Campground, in the Tonto National Forest near Payson, Arizona, seems to be a particularly popular place to be attacked by bears lately. On the last day of May a bear clawed a woman in her tent, and was never apprehended. Another bear, which walked into a cabin about a mile from Ponderosa on June 21 and bit a fellow on the leg while he was asleep (the man was asleep, not the bear)(presumably), was caught and killed a couple of days later.

Now, in case you’re one of those whiny flower children who think the Arizona Game & Fish people should have just relocated the bear, let me just point out here that it was necessary to kill it to check and see if it had any diseases, such as rabies. Assuming it was the right bear. They’re not real sure about that, but they definitely killed a bear, and it looked guilty, so there you go.

And then, just a few days ago, another guy was attacked in his tent at Ponderosa. The Arizona Game & Fish Dept., which should change its name to the Arizona Fish & Game Dept., reported that the man “suffered lacerations and bites to his head and arm and possibly to his legs.” The Arizona Game & Fish Dept. is evidently a little vague on whether the bear damaged the man’s legs. Or maybe the man wasn’t sure. I’m thinking someone could have gone to the trouble of taking a glance down there before they filled out their report, but then, I’m not an Arizona Game & Fish expert.

The bottom line here is that Arizona’s bears seem to be in a bit of a snit. The Ponderosa campground was closed for eleven days after the May 31 attack, and is closed as of this writing, while the search continues for the latest offender. The report I got was conspicuously silent about whether the park was closed after the June 21 incident only a mile away, so I assume not. I guess no one expects a bear to travel that far, which seems overly optimistic to me. But then, I’m not an Arizona Game & Fish expert.But it may not be all bad. The victims of these attacks may be able to sue the state of Arizona, like the guy in California did recently over a deer attack. Perhaps you think I made this suit up. Perhaps you should think again.

UPI.com reported on June 18 that Thadeusz Wyzykowski, of Marin County, filed a handwritten document against the California Dept. of Fish & Game (a government entity that gets it’s critters in the right order). The document claims damages, not from having a really funny name, as you might imagine, but from falling through a window in his home last spring when a deer jumped into his backyard and attacked him. The filing claimed the CDF&G “mismanaged negligently its animal its claims & duties.”

The case, unfortunately for me, was thrown out of court. It seems Wyzykowski is a nutcase of the first order. Last year he filed a handwritten suit in federal court against the Marin County Assessor-Recorder because the county was trying to collect his overdue property taxes from him. Wyzykowski, in that filing, called himself an ‘independent dignity ambassador.’ Well, who ain’t?

Anyway, in light of the bear attacks in Arizona, I’d steer clear of that area for an Independence Day campout. I’d also avoid Ontario, considering what happened to Gordon Shurvell the other day. Gordon was camping in the northwest part of the province with his buddy, Daniel Alexander, when suddenly, for no apparent reason, Thadeusz Wyzykowski sued him.

Not really. Gordon went to use the campsite outhouse early one morning, but neglected to shut the door. He was minding his own business while doing his business when a black bear came in and dragged Gordon out by the shoulder. Which should clear up the question of where bears answer nature’s call. And they get testy when they have to wait, so if you ever use an outhouse in bear country, be hasty.

Luckily for Gordon, Daniel showed up and shot the bear. Gordon survived to camp another day and, considering what hardy folks the Canadians are, he probably won’t allow the bear attack to put a damper on his enjoyment of the outdoors. But I’d be willing to bet that, the next time he hits the one-holer, he takes a gun with him. And latches the door . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who has never failed to make fun of people with names like Wyzykowski. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or jeep@verizon.net

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