2011-05-05 / Sam Bari

The ‘rights’ of spring

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

Spring, that beautiful time of year, is upon us. Trees are budding, the daffodils and crocuses have bloomed, and the grass is greening. Nature is letting us know that state and national parks will be open within a few weeks.

The National Park Service, a fundamentally liberal group with an extreme sense of fairness to critters and humankind alike, organized these vast areas of wilderness many years ago.

In their infinite wisdom, they thought humans had been encroaching on wildlife territory for much too long. They felt that the critters needed areas they could call their own, where they could live in peace without fear of being hunted, shot and eaten.

Thus, they created the state and national parks, which are all game preserves. Read the signs carefully. They say: GAME PRESERVE. Hunting critters and other wildlife is not permitted in these places. These are wildlife sanctuaries.

Take note, however. There are no signs that say: PEOPLE PRESERVE.

The National Forest Service thought it only fair that if there are areas where people can hunt for their prey, animals and other critters should have areas where they can hunt for theirs — without restrictions.

The part that the folks from the forest service leave out, however, is that in national game preserves — you are the prey. If you enter one of these places to experience the serenity that the wilderness has to offer, do not be surprised if it offers a few other experiences that are less than adequately covered in park literature.

This is the wilderness. In the wilderness, animals have rights. You do not.

Nowhere in any brochure that I have ever seen, or on any sign at the entrance to a state or national park, are words posted that suggest, “If you enter here, you might be eaten.”

I think this is a tad shortsighted on the part of the forest rangers. Instead, they post signs that say: “Do not feed the animals.”

The signs should say, “If you do not feed the animals, they will feed on you.”

I suppose they assume that people will figure that out. Well, they are wrong.

If I may suggest, feeding the animals is probably a bad idea, mostly because you will not have brought enough food to satisfy the appetite of say, an 800-pound grizzly just waking from a long winter’s nap. If he is grouchy, it’s more than likely because he’s hungry.

However, if said bear saunters into your campsite and looks longingly at your pic-a-nic basket, do not offer him a peanut butter sandwich. Trust me. He is not Yogi. Just give him the basket and be on your way — post haste.

If he peers into your van and spots a cooler, give it to him. You do not want to anger the bear. Losing a cooler is a small price to pay to avoid the alternative.

The difference between humans and bears is that humans would probably not welcome bears into their living rooms, whereas bears would be much more accommodating and insist on humans entering theirs.

Wildlife and humans also have distinct differences in hunting techniques. Humans humanely shoot their prey, dress it, cook it and eat it. Critters and larger wildlife prefer the Jurassic Park method.

They skip the shooting, dressing and cooking parts and go directly to eating. Not to be an alarmist, but I might mention that although the methodology is more efficient, the experience can be somewhat daunting on the part of the prey.

If you still decide to visit one of the many game preserves after reading this warning, another matter is well worth consideration. If the bears don’t eat you, the mosquitoes and black flies will. They will find you quite tasty. And they will find you. Make no mistake — they are waiting.

Our government’s plans to curb spending unfortunately threaten park services. Consequently, park maintenance will not be up to par and the local residents will be free to roam at will.

Loosely translated, that means they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want — with impunity.

If services slow down, visitors will soon see long lines of cars waiting to go into the parks and few coming out. If deserted campsites become the norm, it could be because the occupants have been detained, possibly for quite some time.

Visiting the wild could mean spending time in a system you really don’t understand.

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