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Bear with me while I muse on our recent ursine sighting

July 03, 2008|By TIM ROWLAND

So what was a bear doing at the Williamsport Sheetz? They come up with a new breakfast sandwich called the shmal- mon? Was he after a scratch-off? And for that matter, what was he doing in Williamsport in the first place?

Maybe he was just passing through on his way to Halfway, so he could go shopping at Valley Maul. (Oh, be quiet; if I have to do a whole column on bear jokes, there are bound to be some weak links, OK?)

According to a story by Herald-Mail staff writer Erin Julius (who refuses to let me refer to her as a Cub Reporter), police began receiving calls early Monday and, for the next couple of hours, the bear led authorities on a wild Pooh chase through the streets of Williamsport before he finally disappeared into the woods.

If you're a lawman, this is about the time you regret not taking the job in Montgomery Village, where the only claws you're ever going to see are on a soccer mom whose kid just got called for tripping. Or whatever it is that soccer kids get called for.

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There's nothing dignified about sprinting down the street in full uniform and hard shoes in pursuit of a wild animal. Yeah, you got a shotgun, but even the bear knows you're not going to use it, not when everybody in America packs a video camera. No one wants to be known across YouTube as the officer who blew away Yogi.

And thank goodness no one caught it. We don't want another Bucky the Deer situation on our hands.

One very clever officer finally lured the bear with a glazed doughnut, which had to be a tough decision for him (the lawman, not the bear). On one hand, you want to get the bear off the streets; on the other, you risk reigniting the cop-doughnut jokes. You know, like, "You sure it was the cop that lured the bear with the doughnut and not the other way around?"

It also sets a dangerous precedent. If bears get a taste for doughnuts, no morning police roll call will be safe.

Anyway, when the sheriff's deputies finally caught up to it, the bear said, "Do you know who I am?" and - no, wrong jurisdiction. In fact, the bear dashed into the woods near Williamsport Retirement Village.

Wow. That had to create some excitement at the starin' window. I feel their pain. They're thinking, whew, I finally get to retire and enjoy some peace and tranqui ... AAEEEEIIIII!! Of course by that time, the bear was probably wishing he could retire.

Natural Resources folks say the bear - fairly small and about 18 months old - had probably just gotten kicked out of his mom's domain and was looking for new turf he could call home.

First, mad props to the bear community for realizing something that we, as a human race, still haven't mastered. That being, when you turn 18, you need to get out.

There are no 26-year-old bears living in their parents' basements surfing the Internet and showing no real interest in advancing past their career as night manager at Wendy's.

More ominously, however, this young bear has now been rejected twice: First by his mother, now by Williamsport. I hope he has access to good counseling. Rejection is a tough cross to bear.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com.

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