The Wedge of the San Rafael

The Wedge of the San Rafael
Someone has to live here, in the middle of desert beauty. Might as well be the Kellys.

Monday, November 22, 2010

G'night, sleep tight

My son, Jeremy, called this morning with a great story. He's a U.S. Border Patrol agent on the Montana border, right up against Glacier National Park. (Yeah, I know: someone has to live in that beautiful area. Might as well be my kid.)

This story happened a few years back, and was told to him by one of the Glacier N.P. rangers. For obvious reasons, the Park Service didn't want this one spread around, but hey, it's a good story.

Park biologists were doing some bear studies and needed to tranquilize a grizzly. Four guys were supposed to rendezvous at the bear trap. These are big, cage-like affairs where bears can be lured in  with a sheep's head, or some such vittle, and immobilized so the biologists can do their thing.

Well, the first showed up, and there was a royally pissed grizzly inside the cage, according to plan. The biologist waited and waited for the other guys to show - cell phone coverage is poor in those remote areas so there was no way to contact his compadres. Expecting them at any moment, he decided to go ahead and tranquilize the bear and get started.

He shot the tranquilizer into the bear, and waited until it went limp.  He waited around some more, and when the guys still weren't there, decided to just go inside the cage and get started. He did, and took his hair, blood or whatever samples from the unconscious griz.

Well, you know what happened. The wind was stiff and sure enough, the cage door slammed shut, with him inside the bear cage with a still-unconscious grizzly. His trank gun was outside the cage and he Could Not Get Out.

Tranquilizing bears is not rocket science, but there isn't a really good way to know how long they'll be tucked up in the arms of Morpheus before the bear comes to, looks around, and is REALLY irritated. The only thing the guy had was a little penknife. Since he had no idea how long the bear would be unconscious, and no idea when the other guys would arrive to free him from the cage, he figured he'd better kill the grizzly with the penknife.

Apparently, the poor sod hacked and hacked and sawed and cut until he finally killed the unconscious grizzly bear. Meanwhile, he's drenched in blood. Any idea how many gallons a grizzly has?

Well, the other biologists finally showed up and came across this horrific scene. Their buddy is nowhere in sight, and the bear cage is pouring blood. They called and hollered, and finally the poor guy hollered back. When they let him out, he was blood-soaked and pretty traumatized (which is probably as vast an understatement as I have ever written).

Jeremy and I speculated that there was probably an opening for a biologist at Glacier N.P. by the end of that week.

Moral of this story: For heavens sake, don't anesthetize a grizzly bear all by yourself.

1 comment:

  1. I guess I'm going to show my city-girl colors, but the one I'm feeling sorry for is the bear! He didn't do anything wrong except cross paths with an incompetent biologist. Here's hoping for the sake of the wildlife that the opening that likely occured was filled by a biologist who is blessed with both brilliance and common sense.
    P.S. Can't wait to download your new book tomorrow!