Bad wild animal news.

On Friday, when I arrived for my weekly volunteer shift at the Marine Mammal Care Center, I remarked, “I’ve been thinking about wild animals all week. Roy in Las Vegas, the guy with the apartment in New York, the photographer from Malibu – and the sea lion pup that nipped my glove last week!!!”

It was a sucky week for animal news. I really feel for anybody who works with animals, because even if they’re exploiting them for entertainment (Las Vegas) or downright foolish (New York, Malibu), they still care for these critters even though every animal can be dangerous. There’s a guy at the MMCC who’s been to the emergency room several times – once he came back to show us the stitches in his thumb, and regaled us with a description of how the blood spurted out when the animal let go.

Later in my shift, there were no chores to do and I fell into conversation with a woman and some teenage girls who were looking through the fence. I mentioned that we try not to talk to the animals, play with them or give them names – in fact, we’re downright mean sometimes, pushing them away with boards and yelling at them. The teenager was a bit put out on hearing this: “You can’t be nice to them?” I replied, “Well, yeah, we’re nice to them by providing what they need. Many of us here really love animals. But they don’t want our love, they want to be left alone. Best thing to do with a wild animal is stay away from it.”

God save the teenage animal-lovers from themselves!!! Because someday they may become an adult-sized human steak.

This really touches a nerve with me, but I’ll try to stay off the soapbox. Yes, I agree that in most cases the best thing to do with wild animals is to stay away and appreciate them from a distance. Recently out here a bear that had started hanging out in people’s yards was shot by the Fish and Game Dept.–shooting bears that have lost their fear of humans is standard operating procedure because a bear with no fear of humans can easily hurt someone. Of course a lot of folks were furiously calling Fish and Game murderers. But the only reason the bear was hanging around a suburban area in the first place was that people were feeding it. If they’d treated it as a wild and potentially dangerous animal rather than a tame backyard pet that needed a bowl of dog kibbles it might still be alive.

And unfortunately it isn’t the only time an incident like this has happened out here. A few years ago a child was bitten after his father started putting out food for a bear. (And yes, that bear was shot too.) The father said he wanted his son to respect nature–well, respecting nature means respecting the fact that these animals are equipped to survive in the wild without human help AND that nature can kill you and add you to the food chain just as easily as it would a rat.

Are people still getting their nature information from those technicolor Walt Disney flicks?

Rangers have a saying: “A fed bear is a dead bear.”

Meaning, a bear that is fed by humans will not become more “tame” or affectionate towards humans. Instead, it will associate humans with food, and become violent if that food is withheld.

I also said this to the teenagers at the fence.

Sometimes my duties at the MMCC include “jumping” elephant seals – that is, grabbing their heads and holding them down so a feeding tube can be stuck down their throat. You would be surprised at how hard some of these animals fight; ironically, they fight harder to not be fed than they fight to live, sometimes dying on us. And then there are the “rollers.” And the “poopers.” Elephant seal shit is godawful pestiferous, and liquid.

If people wouldn’t deliberately feed pigeons & seagulls in my neighbourhood, they might go away and quit shtting on my house. If these birds are not equipped to live in the wild without the feeding assistance of humans (and of course, they are), then please…let their numbers die down! In my mind they have reached the stage of being dangerous, dirty, disease-ridden pests, and guess whose fault this is? People who feed the dmned things.

How would they like it if I started a rat-feeding campaign in the empty lot across from their house??:mad:

I have seen many terrible things living in the Rocky Mountians in a town called Banff. A large tourist destination. The animals are being led into town by the promise of food by tourists who think it is cute to put your baby on the back of an elk to get a picture. Well not so cute when the elk freaks out and runs off with your baby. These are not tame animals and will attack. I had a baby black bear living in my tree for two weeks, too scared to come down and his mother was already caught and sent back out to the wildreness. Many animals are being killed on the freeway trying to cross into the town. When someone is mauled and killed or injured they blame the wildlife rangers for not doind their job. Thise is a tough job for them and when people keep feeding the animals and approcahing them to get “cute” pictures it makes it even tougher. The only time a person should be interacting with wild animals should be for conservation efforts. One story that I will never forget is when a conservationist had finally had enough and brought a cougar he had just tagged and went down to the local night club that the tourists like to go dancing and let the cougar loose in the club. The people went crazy running and tramplig eachother to get out. There were many injuries but not caused by the cougar but by the people trying to flee. The cougar jumped on a table in a corner scared shitless. People just don’t get it. Leave the animals alone and they will leave you alone. When I was on Vancouver Island I was sitting on a fairly deserted beach when these Japanese tourists came around the bend a found a beached whale, well, one man jumped on top of the beached whale to get a better picture and fell through the rotton carcass. I have never laughed so hard, it was sick but the sight of his friends trying to pull him out of the carcass was halarious. I guess people will never learn.