Arrow-right Camera


The Slice: Overprotective moms can be a bear

Tue., June 17, 2014

Life in the Northwest presents us with one special challenge.

We have to suppress our abiding urge to interact with grizzly bear cubs.

Sure, we all know why. Mother bears are apt to object. Got it.

So it would be a bad idea to pick up a cub encountered near a hiking trail and say, “Well, hello there, little fella!”

Again, that could lead to your sudden demise. Understood.

But let’s not pretend that rational understanding of the threat posed by adult bears makes the desire to meet/greet cubs go away. It doesn’t.

No amount of sober science can obliterate the fantasy appeal of reaching down and patting a grizzly cub on the head.

“You’re a good little predator. Yes, you are!”

OK, people all over the country can imagine how sweet it would be to pet a small ursus arctos horribilis. Of course. They are that cute.

I mean, look at those ears, for the love of all that’s furry.

But those of us who live in our neck of the Lower 48 woods are the ones who actually have to steel ourselves with reminders of why that could be a life-threatening miscalculation.

It’s one thing for someone in New Jersey or Kansas to know that a grizzly sow can be a bit overprotective. But we up in this corner of the country are the ones who live with the fact that we might have to rebuff a charming little silvertip some summer day.

“I’d love to stick around and play with you, little guy. And I would be happy to share my sandwich and be friends. But I suspect your mom is somewhere nearby. She might misinterpret my intentions.”

Can you imagine turning your back on one of those bright-eyed faces? Talk about heartbreak.

Sure, it’s better than being mauled to death. That, however, doesn’t make it easy.

It’s a burden, no question. Being emotionally prepared to reject the advances of a frolicking bruin takes a psychic toll on us.

But it’s a price we pay for living here.

And it’s better for the bears to get their hugs from their own kind.

Today’s Slice question: Can you usually spot a former camp counselor?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email If John R. Nelson’s swimsuit could talk it might say “Separating the wet from the chafe.”

Tags: The Slice

Click here to comment on this story »