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They're Here. And....They're Jaywalking

Pumas and Bruins and Boulder. Oh, My!

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, September 12, 2007.

Boulder is full of hysterics, a word I love because it is offensive to those who choose to see it as a sexist remark because of its uterine denotation. That, and because I can liberally apply it to just about all my fellow citizens who don’t have the immense calm, the insurmountable strength, the deep wisdom that only adheres to those of us with massive amounts of testosterone flowing in our bodies. Men. Mighty men. Mighty men of the sort who’d bitch slap a pregnant bear in our garbage and call out a cougar for the pussy it is as it prepares to launch its 175 pounds upon me from on high. That’s me: Boulder Man.

I mention this in reaction to the invasion of Boulder by two of those particular mammals last night. A male black bear that viciously attempted to scarf some garbage and sleep in a tree, and a cougar, a puma, a mountain lion and catamount, seen by a mother and child jaywalking across 14th St. Our streets are numbered starting in the west, which are pretty much flush against the Rockies. So, for you CU geography students, that means the cat was deep into metropolitan Boulder. And jaywalking, but we’ll let that go.

In the newspaper today, coverage of the bear story was concise and amounted to this. A bear was seen Tuesday night nosing around. He climbed a tree to sleep it off, when the authorities got there and tried to drive him away into the woods. This became a cause celebre when it was noted the animal had a tag in its ear, the stigmata of having been bothersome before, sedated, and moved back into the woods. The law is that if it happens twice, the bear is a chronic criminal and must be killed, and to avoid this, Boulder barely stopped short of mass marches to save the bear, apparently closely related to a former fraternity brother who could sleep atop a ringing alarm radio for - we timed him - over a half hour. Despite being hosed with water, forced to watch Britney Spears' opening number at the MTV awards, being interviewed by four bloggers, and being compelled to utter the call letters of a Denver radio station for a promo, he mostly slept all day and left early this morning. So we’re told. Boulder has gone into a faint of happiness and today we’re informed on the newspaper’s website exactly what to think of these major incidents, both by the editor and by the sorts my fraternity brother used to beat up when awake.

We are assured that a mere black bear is harmless, and that shutting down a high school for two hours, as happened, was absolutely unnecessary and an overreaction. I admit, black bears would rather avoid us and be left alone, and they are not to be mistaken for the gigantic Kodiak Brown Bears that devoured David Treadwell and his unhappy girlfriend whom he’d met while in Boulder, fittingly. I’m sorry, but there are no circumstances where a bear is harmless. A three hundred pound black bear could break anyone’s neck by backhanding them, and could outrun about anything human when inspired. Bears mostly are beautiful and highly engaging creatures to us, but they’re wild. This doesn’t mean they like to party. By this is meant that when hunger or anger or fear appears, there are no social or neurological restraints and it acts immediately. A bear could walk across a playground full of four year olds and ignore them all and eat their trash off the ground. He could do it for days. Eventually, mathematically, he will kill and eat one of them. All the same to him.

In Boulder, a mountain lion is reported to have been batting at a glass door to get at a woman in her kitchen last week. A short while back, a hiker’s child in Chautauqua Mountain Park was hauled away by the head and nearly killed absent his family’s immediate and forceful attacks. In Idaho Springs, a jogger was killed and partially eaten about ten years ago. And last night, a cougar was jaywalking on 14th St.

It’s been my contention that those who scream about not respecting the animals’ space and that we are the invaders and that we shouldn’t kill them for threatening us are generally the same sorts to call down thunderbolts if something happens to their child when in the care of others, like a school, and to complain about high taxes of the sort it takes to move animals deep into the woods and release them. It is my further selfish opinion that I prefer a world in which bears and pumas kill off those who annoy me. That would be nature in harmony.

But I am not yet God, and I have a tough time arguing in favor of risking kid’s lives in order to express my respect for nature and my unwillingness to pay for those procedures that would alleviate the need for this conversation. So long as we have lots of kids, we’re going to encroach more and more. And while the thought of a family of bears or pumas sampling the garbage behind a 29th St. restaurant is amusing and satisfying, it doesn’t address the issue that the pumas, at least, are already patrolling the center of Boulder with the deer crossing signs and the coyotes, and the panhandlers, and the children.

How long before a kid is killed and eaten in downtown overnight? Really. It could have happened last night. There is nothing to prevent it. They’re here. And, they’re jaywalking.