PRO by Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director
Let’s take a moment and appreciate bears. They are the soft toilet paper of the world – necessary and comfortable, yet often overlooked. But the truth is, bears are a necessary part of the food chain, environment, and entertainment industry.
Picture this: salmon everywhere, flopping all over schools and homes, swimming in pools and bathtubs and tearing apart the universe one fin at a time. If only there was a furry beast that depended on fish to survive that could save us from this dystopia. Oh, wait. There is – the bear. If it weren’t for this magnificent creature, the fish surplus could clog streams used for drinking water and dominate the habitats of other underwater life.
Since ancient times, bears have been a symbol of power and strength. But with the release of the teddy bear in the 1900s, their image transitioned to one cuddly and cute. They dominate the film and television industry. Let’s not forget the Pixar classic, Brave, which won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Animated Picture; bears showed us the meaning of true family. Not good enough, you say? More convincing is what you require? Then take a gander back to 1967 when Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book taught us the importance of the ‘bare necessities’ with the help of the goofy and charismatic Baloo. And don’t forget the honey-loving, cuddly, chubby, stuffed-with-fluff Winnie the Pooh.
Can you imagine a world without Winnie the Pooh? I can, and I want no part of it. If it’s still difficult for you to imagine bears in a tender light, think back to Disney’s Brother Bear, which put us in the bear’s paws after a curse forces the protagonist into a grizzly’s body. Although he hated the species that killed his brother, Kenai’s journey showed him that humans and bears are all just creatures trying to survive.
Some may portray these magical, misunderstood creatures as violent, scary or maybe even terrifying. Yes, there is the occasional mauling accident, but would you stand idly by while someone was hiking in your home? Didn’t think so. Bears attack humans because humans are in their territory, or threatening their cubs. The real issue, however, is the way humans treat bears. Six out of the eight bear species in the world are endangered because poachers kill them and sell their body parts and fur for a profit.
There are ways for humans to peacefully coexist with bears, despite being two of the most aggressive predators on the planet. Humans living in a bear populated area should be aware of bear behavior and ecology in order to cohabitate safely. In addition, an effort should be made to remove lures such as bird feeders, livestock carcasses, or fruit trees.
In a time when our world is technology-heavy, taking time to understand bears is taking time to understand nature.
CON by Abby Seitz, online/associate director
America has been completely blinded by the internet and the media once again. Many times when I have logged onto Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr with high hopes of finding entertaining material, I have found my peers consumed with bear mania. Whether it’s a video of a polar bear cub sliding around on ice or a large bear sitting at a picnic table, it’s about as repulsive as that freshman couple that posts pictures of their make-out sessions. The adoration surrounding bears needs to stop.
As a child, I loved bears. I had hats, stuffed animals, and even a collection of panda postcards. Upon my first visit to the zoo, I was thrilled at the prospect of visiting all of the different bears. When I reached the panda exhibit, the bears were eating and hiding from the public. I moved onto the sloth bear exhibit to find a furry failure at life, asleep and apathetic. I decided to give the Andean bear a shot, only to find another bear playing dead. While that sounds like a case of bad luck, after five more visits to the zoo, I’m not sure the bears even rolled over in my absence. For years, I was misled by Bear in the Big Blue House, Winnie the Pooh, and Little Bear. My childhood was shattered by furry menaces. America needs to realize that underneath the alleged cuddly and adorable shell, bears are truly evil creatures.
Maybe you’ve been persuaded by the advertisements for wildlife funds to keep polar bears alive, featuring little puffs of fur in their natural habitat. If this is the case, you are a victim of propaganda. Where is the push to keep endangered reptiles alive? According to a Feb. 15 article on the NBC News website, nearly one-fifth of reptiles are on the road to extinction. Because lizards and snakes have a disgusting and slimy stigma disguising their true beauty, their endangerment is being overlooked. Pandas and other endangered bears are being kept alive purely because they’re cute. America cannot handle the facts – harmless reptiles are dying, while bellicose bears slowly take over the public’s heart.
Bears are violent killers. From 2000 to 2010, there were 27 bear-related deaths in North America, according to backpacker.com. Seventeen of the attacks were by black bears, while 10 grizzly bears unleashed their true mission in life. As Stephen Colbert has exclaimed on The Colbert Report, bears are “Godless killing machines.”
If cold hard science isn’t enough to prove bears dangerous and useless creatures, pick up a copy of the Bible. In 2 Kings 2:23, the prophet Elisha curses children in the name of the Lord. As a result of the damnation, two bears emerge from the woods and maul 48 children. If the Bible is enough of a reason to prohibit gay marriage and abortion, it is certainly logical evidence in the fight against bears.
Bears are just about as dangerous as kitchen knives or breaking up with Taylor Swift. What other despicable attributes do these creatures possess? Bears have been involved in a string of criminal acts, from stealing to breaking and entering. According to a Sept. 25 report by ABC News, a bear in California stumbled out of the woods and stole a backpack and an iPad, belonging to a fisherman. If any human committed this act, they would be in serious trouble with the law. However, because bears are so “cuddly,” this bear was let completely off the hook. Various other reports have surfaced in the last decade, involving bears breaking into Subway restaurants, Norwegian cabins, and cars in Colorado. In Churchill, Canada, dubbed the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” residents avoid walking the streets during bear season, and leave cars unlocked to provide refuge in case of an attack. Bears are threatening society because we’re letting them. If you are a whole-hearted American like myself, you are probably asking what you can do to aid the movement against the bears. First, we need to stop lying to children. We must stop buying Care Bear backpacks for children and or reading them Berenstein Bear books. Parents should trash teddy bears and buy stuffed reptiles instead. If we start by educating youngsters, we can erase the twisted concept of associating cuddly and cute with pandas and grizzlies. It may take several generations to completely rid society of their bear infatuation, but time is trivial when compared to saving America from these monsters.