Thursday, December 30, 2021

Bears in Jackson

You know Jackson, NH, even though you may not realise it.  It has a red covered bridge that is often photographed and makes it to calendars. It is called the Honeymoon Bridge or the Wedding Bridge. My son was actually married down the street from it. In 2001 when I was picking up my adopted sons in Beius, Romania, there was a picture of it in the clinic lobby.  A bit disorienting.

It is in the White Mountains, very near worst-weather-in-the world Mount Washington. But people live there, and wildlife lives there as well, and they have more interaction than in most other places. In particular, they always have many bears in the neighboring protected forests, who like coming in to inhabited touristy places that have food just lying around for the taking. The townspeople of Jackson recognise the various bears, and are pretty astute in recognising which ones seem to be getting worrisome and need to be moved to another location. (They make it back the next summer about a third of the time, I hear.)

But I don't think I was quite prepared to hear that when one particular bear kept coming back to the playground at the elementary school too often, the solution was to go out and bang pots to make him go away if he was there at recess. I get it that bears are usually not aggressive, but I don't think usually is a sufficient comfort in the case of elementary school children. Nor do I think the teachers can be entirely objective about the issue in the moment, as by recess time many of them might be willing to go out and poke the bear with a stick themselves in order to get the children outside to blow off some steam.

My daughter-in-law suddenly thinks a children's picture book about this might be doable.


Christopher B said...

One of the confounders in our estimation of risk is the degree to which we imagine we are controlling the situation.

Also brings to mind the T-shirt, "I don't have to run faster than the bear, I just have to run faster than YOU."

Assistant Village Idiot said...

That's an interesting point. Because we try to do something to control a situation, we have a natural tendency to believe that has done some good. If it works a few times we are powerfully motivated to believe it will work consistently because it was an action that we took.

False success attribution can be used against you by carnival barkers, con artists, and of course politicians you voted for or gave money to. And so can false success. I remember from pickup basketball as a boy that if a long-distance gunner took a deep shot, you'd hope he made that first one, because then he would be taking low-percentage shots all afternoon. It figures prominently in military strategies as well, convincing your enemy to keep doing what's not working very often rather than switch to a new strategy.

Thos. said...

I live in grizzly bear country. The local wildlife officials will sometimes try to relocate bears (black or grizzly) that become too comfortable around people. But if they become habituated to getting their food from people, then they are nearly always put down.

Pots and pans are cute, but the propper solution to a problem bear is a bullet.

james said...

I don't know if a picture book would work, but maybe a revised version of "Bye, Baby Bunting"? I assume decor of the principal's office would be improved with a bearskin rug.

Grim said...

There is a bear who lives on my land, amid his ventures abroad for food and water. He has been perfectly well-behaved as a neighbor.