On the weekend of August 7, 2015, it was discovered that an experienced hiker, Lance Crosby, 63, had been reported missing within Yellowstone National Park and a bear attack was suspected. It was noted early on that while the man was an experienced hiker and knew the region, he was in a popular area off-trail within the park. Very shortly after the initial report, the Washington Post released an article stating that it was indeed a bear attack against the hiker and the female bear thought to be responsible had been captured within the following hours.

The mama bear captured, and her cubs had been detained by officials and the adult female bear was being DNA tested for her involvement in the crime of killing the hiker within her natural terrain. Additionally, authorities would be using paw prints as well to verify if the female bear was involved. Officials were reported in the Washington Post as stating that if there were indeed witnesses who could speak up for the bear, proclaiming her natural defense of herself and her cubs from a human, then she would be more likely spared her life. Without a human witness to speak on her behalf, her life would be destroyed and possibly the cubs as well for being associated in the crime.

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Unfair Retribution

Now, on the week of August 18, a Montana man has lost his life and to compensate for this, a mama bear has been sentenced to death and destroyed. After her capture and jailed detainment by authorities, her DNA testing and paw prints did, in fact, link her to being involved in the man’s death.

Officials have proclaimed that the cubs are most probably too young to survive without their mother, who has now been killed, so to spare their lives they will hand them over to a zoo to be held captive and jailed for the remainder of their years on earth. The verdict for the need to condemn the mama bear to a death sentence and the cubs to be jailed for life: the man was destroyed more than what authorities believe to be normal for defense and thereby, the bears are deemed to have murdered.

Faulting Nature

Following this story, it reads more like a murder charge against an aggravated armed robber who broke into a family’s home to assault and needlessly kill people rather than an accident with a human willingly entering into the wilderness knowing the risk involved by being in the natural habitat of wildlife, including wildlife that is larger and more powerful than man.

We build homes and cities to congregate together and form our societies while wildlife has maintained their homes within the natural habitats that Mother Nature supplied for them. When we enter into their neighborhood, we must respect and understand exactly what we are walking into. Whether you are a novice or experienced hiker, situations can still arise that may be less than invited.

There can be unfortunate times it is understandable to euthanize an animal such as coming into a populated area and killing people or when animals have been infected with an invasive disease. But, as urban sprawl has become a problem in so many areas, should we really punish wildlife for doing what comes natural to them in their home areas when feeling cornered or protecting themselves and offspring from other mammals, including humans? It is sad when accidents happen and a person becomes a victim, but accidents do happen and the best thing that can be done is to learn from them and not make others pay for a mistake that led to an unfortunate event.

So what can this story teach us? To travel safely whether it be out in the neighborhood of wilderness or on the streets of our society’s cities. When you venture out into the wilderness ensure that you travel with products to help keep you safe, try traveling with a partner or group, and know the policies.

As a society, we have produced guidelines to follow and majority of the policies that have been put in place are there in order to help deem a safe environment; for that reason, we should adhere to those policies in an attempt to stay safe. Sometimes to protect ourselves and family, it also coincides with protecting nature and the animals that call the wilderness their home.

Lead image source: Gregory Smith/Flickr

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