Alaska Notebook: Black bear needs no BBQ

Troopers said a man mauled by a black bear after feeding the bear meat from a church picnic barbecue had been drinking.

In that sentence you may have crime, cause and justice done.

"Don't feed the bears" is about as rudimentary a rule for keeping out of trouble as you'll ever read or hear. Law enforcers and Fish and Game biologists are adamant -- don't feed any wild animals.

Alaskans break those rules every day, but some violations are lighter than others.

I've always respected the work and advice of retired state biologist Rick Sinnott and current biologist Jessy Coltrane. Both have had to deal with wayward bears and people who refuse to abide by the rules of bear country, which includes the Municipality of Anchorage.

I used to think that their precautions went a little over the top when they told us to ditch the bird feeders. I could understand not leaving out dog food and not leaving your garbage cans out at the curb overnight and making sure you put the lid on the back-deck grill so as not to lead bears into temptation.

But bird feeders? Didn't buy that one until folks a few doors down in our Eagle River neighborhood had their feeders mangled in the wee hours by pair of brown bears. Oh.

Scents iced in March travel far come June, especially in the current heat.

I've been a bird feeder scofflaw but I can't imagine pitching barbecue to a bear without being in an altered state of mind. This man's experience should be a cautionary tale about drinking in bear country. Even the clear-headed who do everything right can get crossways with a bear, let alone those who travel those trails with clouded judgment. Mercy isn't nature's way, and instant natural selection is a bear.

-- Frank Gerjevic