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fuzzy wuzzy 1998-2002
a bear out of the woods
by robert a. melos

A black bear, estimated to be four years old, was murdered in the New Jersey township of North Brunswick, on Saturday November 2nd. The bear, a tagged animal, wandered into the condominium development of Society Hill on the Northbound side of Route One, and attempted to enter the rear door of one of the townhouses. The owner of the townhouse chased the bear by shooting his 12 gauge shotgun at the animal, missing it. (So much for the hunter safety rule of not discharging a weapon in the vicinity of houses).

The bear was later spotted eating out of a dog food bowl by the backdoor of another home in the development. Officials where called in, and the semi-defenseless animal was tracked and gunned down on a common area lawn between several townhomes. So what did the bear do that warranted its murder? It wandered into a populated area.

Okay, so the area was populated. At one time, prior to the development of the townhouses and condominiums, the population of that particular area was bear, deer, raccoon, groundhog, squirrel, geese, and other wild animals native to the area. Then one day, as the saying goes, "man entered the forest."

I'm sure, upon the first sighting of man in the forest, one bear turned to another and said "there goes the neighborhood." Okay, so they growled instead of spoke, but the general sentiment was the same. They knew, as most animals which have encountered man knew, the moment human beings venture into your part of the forest, trees are coming down and townhomes are going up. It really only means one thing to the animals. Relocation.

Now with the overly inflated New Jersey real estate market, I'm sure the black bear in question was not looking to do harm, but was trying to find a nice three bedroom towncave for under $250,000. The bear's only crime was its species. Had it been annoyingly human in its look, pawing at a backdoor, while I'm sure someone in the area very well might've taken a shot at it just the same, it would not have been murdered in cold blood by ruthless government agents, it would have been captured and transplanted to another less human populated area.

Unfortunately, human compassion was not to be granted this fuzzy creature. Instead, on a cold November afternoon, this animal of the wild, which was forced from its den by the human element in the area and heavy construction on the Route One corridor, was shot down like a human pumping gas in the Maryland or Virginia area.

Man has still not learned to co-exist with man, so it doesn't surprise me to see human beings wielding their superiority over every other species. It does disappoint me, and it makes me wonder how the parents in North Brunswick Township are spending their Sunday?

Are they explaining to their children how Smoky being gunned down in their backyard was for their own protection, and how it was just an animal and not to give it a second thought? Maybe they've popped a video in for the kiddies to watch? Something like, oh say, Bambi? Perhaps they've deposited the children in front of the tube to watch Animal Planet? Or are they ignoring the slaughter and planting themselves in front of a television watching football?

I'm not saying the bear wasn't a threat to the human population, anymore than the human population was a threat to the bear. All I'm saying is, there were other options to be considered, and there could've been a better outcome for the bear.

It is not known at this time if the bear left behind a family, but I'm sure the human element of the area will be very watchful come next Spring. Perhaps by then calmer heads will prevail, and animals won't have to fear trigger happy humans.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

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adam kraemer
11.5.02 @ 3:19p

I'm not especially compassionate when it comes to man vs. beast, but, yeah, it seems to me that killing this one should have been a last resort. That said, I don't think any of us knows what the decision was based on.

robert melos
11.5.02 @ 8:47p

The agents who gunned down the bear were from the EPA, and they gave the local television news a brief "no comment".

matt morin
11.5.02 @ 9:00p

From what I've heard though, once a bear gets a taste of human food, that's all they'll eat. They become increasingly more of a problem, and tend to get more dangerous as they search for human garbage.

I think they probably should have given this bear at least one chance to go back into the woods and live like a normal bear. But if it was a repeat offender, well sorry, but then it should have been shot.

robert melos
11.5.02 @ 9:42p

Part of the problem is the woods are all but gone. Now it's all condos and townhouses, and shopping centers. I guess I was just disgusted in the handling of the whole situation. On a side note, the guy who fired his shotgun was issued a summons for discharging his weapon in a residential neighborhood.

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