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for people who care about the West

Bear voyeurism


With regard to Christopher Solomon’s feature article, “Bear Essentials” (HCN, 12/25/17), I respect the author and the staff at McNeil River Sanctuary for their efforts to minimize human impact in an area rich in resources for brown bears.  However, the fact that they have cordoned off an area so humans can watch the bears “up close” in relative safety still comes down to the simple awareness that we humans are egocentric, voyeuristic beings. We can rationalize our behavior, saying that our impact is minimal and that the bears are getting used to nonthreatening human presence, but the fact is humans and bears should not be getting used to being with, or near, each other.  Ultimately, the bears and their habitat will suffer from human impact, no matter how minimal.  We have a duty to protect them in their natural environment without making such environments vacation destinations.

I have never met a brown bear on the trail, and I hope I never accidentally startle one while hiking. Even if I go to my grave without ever seeing one in the wild, I will die happy, knowing that I did my part to keep bears wild, free, and flourishing.

Kathy Kruse
Fort Collins, Colorado