Facilitating Bear-Related Benefits

Posted on June 29th, 2009 by

Bear, benefiting

Bear, benefiting. Photo by Jacalynsnanna at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jacalynsnana/528076324/

I get it. I really do. I even think it’s a good-no, a noble-idea. But I have to say that, when I heard on the radio that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources had developed a new Bear Management Plan that has as one of its goals, to “Facilitate bear-related benefits,” I did snort in a bear-like fashion. Just who got hold of the sensible folks at the DNR; was it academics? Or management types? And just what IS a bear-related benefit?

Turns out that I just heard about the draft plan. The final version, which was accepted on June 5, 2009, identifies six “strategic bear management goals,” of which I’ve gotta say number five is my personal favorite. Found under the subhead “Recreation,” it reads: “In addition to hunting, provide bear-related recreational opportunities which recognize the aesthetic value of bear.”

I like the fact that it doesn’t specify the audience for these recreational activities. Presumably it is the bear themselves. Will the DNR be conducting surveys of bear populations-or focus groups, maybe-to find out what sorts of recreational opportunities the bear are interested in? I have heard that Teddy Bear picnics are pretty passé these days; they can probably rule those out. But what about Scare-the-Campers raids? Or Steal-the-Marshmallows parties? (Perhaps the latter would run afoul of the state’s Bear Nutrition guidelines, though–all that high fructose corn syrup. I’ve heard reports that bears in Maine and Wisconsin have been enjoying rousing games of Flip the Bird Feeder and Raid the Raspberry Patch; perhaps Michigan bears would find these more heart-healthy activities to their liking also.)

Aftermath of Bear Recreation involving large numbers of berries

Aftermath of Bear Recreation involving large numbers of berries. Photo by Nasunto at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasunto/2768970500/

I think that Bear Management Goal Five is a splendid idea, and I’m sure the bear will be grateful and enthusiastic recipients of it-especially that part about recognizing the aesthetic value of bear. They would be particularly delighted to show humans how much more beautiful they are alive than dead.



  1. Brian O'Brien says:

    Does using “bear” rather than ‘bears’ in strategic places enhance the intellectual content of this stuff?

    With regard to: “Just who got hold of the sensible folks at the DNR; was it academics? Or management types?” – I’m inclined to formulate a strategic working hypothesis that supports, in a synergistic and holistic fashion, the contention that the latter group has the highest probability of being the group of highest impact with regard to this outcome. Persons with such training are known to be thinkers outside of the box.

    I suppose that I’m in favor of minimizing “negative bear-human interactions”. Several strategic approaches to amelioration of these potentially problematic scenarios can be envisioned.

    I suggest that the entire planning body watch Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man several times. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427312/

  2. Tom Gover says:

    Surely you jest, Lisa. As I read the document it has nothing to do with benefits for bears. I think it is designed to have as large a bear population as possible without them becoming public nuisances and causing the DNR a lot of work. That is the “negative bear-human interactions”. The flip side is to have as many successful hunting experiences as possible. The document could have been written by the NRA.

  3. Brian O'Brien says:

    From “The Plan”: “The current bear management program includes research to better understand the ecology of bear and social acceptance capacity of Michigan’s residents.” “Social acceptance capacity” – that’s a keeper, for many potential applications.

  4. Brandy Russell says:

    Highly entertaining. I particularly appreciated the photo captions

  5. Brian O'Brien says:

    Lisa does indeed surely jest, I think, as does the language of the DNR documentation…inadvertently, as far as I can tell.

  6. […] Last night Tilde sat, erect, in front of the screen door, staring intently out at the meadow behind our house. I opened the door, she scampered out and stood, growling and barking…at a bear!  In honor of her bear sighting–the second one since she’s lived with us–we’ve composed some haiku. (Say…do you suppose haiku composition counts as a bear-related benefit?) […]