"She said what?"
I recently watched Grizzly Man. I enjoyed it, though I thought, "Wow, he's sort of a nut." The other night I watched an episode of Primetime (I very rarely watch it, but you know it sucks you in if you catch two minutes. This particular subset of Primetime is called "The Outsiders" which ABC.com tells me is a 5-part series about, basically, weird people. Like people who buy monkeys and raise them as their children... I didn't watch that one) about a man in Alaska who built a cabin in the woods for the sole purpose of getting a whole crapload of bears to come on by and make friends with him.
Now, I really admire people who are naturalists and ecologists and know things about nature and the animal kingdom and wilderness survival and building log cabins and all those wonderful things, but BEARS KILL PEOPLE. Apparently all the time. Do not go do that site, and do not read the descriptions of what happened (such delights as bears dragging people from their tents and eating them. Don't you dare drag me from my tent, bear! This is my tent!), because it will make you never want to go camping, or anywhere near Canada or the western United States ever again. (Seriously, if I lived in Montana I'd be in parks hiking around all the time. An apparently incredibly stupid thing to do by yourself. Or with your family. Or at all, as bears eat people).
Okay, I knew bears ate people before. I consider myself to be a fairly wilderness-savvy young woman. When hiking in bear territory, you bang pots and sing loudly. You hang your food high up in a tree and don't keep your deodorant or your toothpaste in your tent. If attacked by a bear, you have to figure out what kind of bear it is and then either hit it in the face or curl into a ball (a nice ball of food, like a dumpling. Bears love dumplings, why encourage them?). These are things that are supposed to keep bears from eating you.
I thought it was only mountain lions that randomly attacked people for fun (much to my surprise, Wikipedia's "List of Fatal Cougar Attacks in North America" is considerably shorter than the bear list). I thought bears only ate people who were dragging around delicious elk carcasses. Or tried to make them wear clown outfits in the circus. Or kidnapped their cubs. Or looked at their cubs wrong (my philosophy has been, in the past, to avoid bear cubs at all costs). Or said mean things about their mommas. Or followed them around with video cameras in the middle of their feeding territory. I had no idea bears would drag a person from her tent while she was sleeping. Not looking at any bears, not eating, not making them wear funny clothes. Just sleeping! AGH! My whole view of mountain camping is shattered.
I'm going up to the Boundary Waters later in the summer. There are bears in the Boundary Waters, though I've never heard of a person being eaten by one up there. However, Boundary Waters is dangerously close to Canada (hence the "Boundary"). My impression of Canada has, in one evening, gone from "completely awesome and gigantic place with really great people, sweet cities, beautiful wilderness, and signs in French" to "place where people get eaten by bears and 'Fatally mauled while picking plums.'"
And on a lighter note, that Discovery Channel commercial and the Derek Redmond Visa ad for the Olympics make me love basically everything. Even bears.
Fact: Bears eat beets. And people.