29 Jan 2006

Bite-the-Alligator Award Story

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Tom Stienstra, the SF Chronicle’s Outdoor columnist, tells the story of this guy who was scared to death of bears.

But he was going to Bear Valley, and anyplace with a name like that would require some bear repellent, he figured…

He was tortured with the nightmare of a pack of bears surrounding him, slapping him around for fun, and then jumping on him, slobbering in his face. So he bought a canister of bear pepper spray, which is similar to mace. That is, if attacked, you spray it on the attacker’s face.

The outfitters from Alaska I know told me the hardest thing about administering pepper spray is that it hurts like heck when the bear stuffs the can down your throat.

Well, as the story goes, this guy in hysterics came running into the Bear Valley fire house.

“He was in great pain and wanted first-aid,” Jung said. “He thought pepper spray was like mosquito repellent and had sprayed it all over himself.”

That’s right, the guy sprayed himself with pepper spray.

In honor of this excruciating encounter, I hereby award Bear Repellent Bill the Bite-The-Alligator Award that I occasionally bestow.

This award is in honor of a small poodle dog in Florida that yapped at the alligator that climbed out of the canal, nipped it in the tail, whereupon the alligator whipped around and promptly ate it.

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Of course, there is also the famous alleged Glacier National Park advisory sign:

MONTANA GRIZZLY BEAR ALERT

In light of the rising frequency of human/grizzly bear encounters, the Montana Department of Fish and Game advises hikers, hunters, and fishermen to take extra precautions and to stay alert for bears while in the field.

It is advised that outdoorsmen wear small bells on their clothing so as not to startle bears that aren’t expecting them. We also advise outdoorsmen to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a bear.

Additionally, it is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity. Outdoorsmen should be able recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear sign.

Black bear excrement is smaller, and contains lots of berries and squirrel fur.

Grizzly bear excrement has lots of little bells in it, and smells like pepper.

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