Friday, June 14, 2013

Alaskan Bear Kills Man

A 64 year-old Fairbanks resident has been killed by a bear outside his cabin near Delta Junction, AK.  The linked article from the Daily News-Miner website indicates that extensive scientific investigation will be done to ascertain if a bear killed by a state trooper near the scene is, indeed, the guilty party.  Legal authorities were informed of the incident by a cell phone call and responded with two helicopters and an airboat.  So much for the "wilderness" theory.

Even more notable, however, is the extension of societal norms to the animal world.  An animal that injures or kills a human has apparently broken some law requiring that it be pursued by the authorities.  A DNA swab and hair samples have been taken of the dead bruin to determine if, in fact, he is the killer of the innocent human.  And what happens if he's not?  Will state troopers comb the forest searching for bad bears until they get a match?  If the tooth marks seem to show that the dead bear is guilty, if a bear can be "guilty" in the sense that a human might be, is it case closed?

If a bear can't do bear-like things, mauling transient humans, for instance, in the now cell-phone inundated Alaska wilderness, where can he do it?  Shouldn't a human maybe have to accept some risk when he waddles into the domain of large carnivorous beasts?  If I take a nap in a dark alley in parts of Detroit I won't get much sympathy from the cops if somebody comes along and conks me in the head and leaves with my billfold.  They won't examine my body for DNA and try to match it with members of the local predator population.

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