Living in fear of West Nile, grizzlies and George W. | AspenTimes.com

Living in fear of West Nile, grizzlies and George W.

Gaylord Guenin

If you have been concerned about West Nile virus, you may now have a somewhat larger problem. A pair of hunters told Colorado wildlife officials that they spotted a female grizzly bear and two cubs in the San Isabel National Forest near Independence Pass on Sept. 20.The men who made the sighting have experience hunting both black bears and grizzlies, a fact that led Colorado officials to consider them to be “credible witnesses.”Division of Wildlife officials searched the area on foot and with a helicopter but no clear evidence of the presence of the grizzlies was found. A DOW spokesman said that the last authenticated existence of a grizzly in Colorado was in 1979, when one was killed in the San Juan National Forest in southern Colorado. I suppose that is good news?As everyone here knows, we have an abundance of black bears in our neighborhood and maybe we do have a grizzly or two. I thought I might have seen one about 15 years ago crossing the Woody Creek Road about halfway to Lenado. It was a quick sighting – it also was a very large bear. A few years earlier a friend believed he spotted one in the same general area. I didn’t mention my “encounter” to anyone because I really wasn’t certain as to what it was I had seen, and I knew that most of my friends would have simply giggled.I grew up in Montana and spent a great deal of time fly-fishing in and around Yellowstone National Park, an activity that allowed me to see numerous grizzlies. I can guarantee you that I never lingered, nor did I attempt to snap a cute photo. Grizzlies have a reputation for being quite cranky. No need to test that reputation, was my thinking. On average, according to my “Fieldbook of Natural History,” black bears often reach a weight of 500 pounds but rarely do they achieve 600. Some grizzlies have been known to reach l, l50 pounds. But is there really any significance in that weight differential? Will it really make any difference if you are attacked by a 500-pound bear or one that is twice that size? It’s my guess that in either case the bear will have the advantage, unless you are heavily armed.I don’t spend much time in the woods anymore and this report wouldn’t scare me out of the woods, but it certainly would give me reason to be a tad more cautious in certain areas. And I didn’t locked myself in my cabin for the summer just because of West Nile virus. I try to remember to use lots of mosquito spray in the early evening and trust in the fact that mosquitoes do not seem all that attracted to me, much as many of the women I have known.If you are inclined to live in fear, consider on whom George W., our compassionate-warrior president, may next unleash our war machine. Iran and North Korea seem very high on his list, as does most of the Muslim world. Considering the secretive nature of this administration, it is possible that we have plans to invade Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), or France, or Argentina, or maybe even China. God knows that waging war and killing innocent people is of no particular concern to George W. and his inner circle.In fact, one of their secret targets might be California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had the audacity to sign a bill pledging that his state would cut its greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. This has to irritate the hell out of George W. and those thousands of greedy lobbyists who have so diligently fought off all efforts to reduce emissions nationally, as well as our participation in the Kyoto Protocol.According to The New York Times, “the U.S. gets about half of its electricity from coal, the most carbon-intense of fuels. And coal generation accounts for more than a third of the greenhouse gas emissions.” George W. argues that it would hurt the national economy if some of our coal-fired plants were to be replaced by low-carbon sources.It most likely would create some economic problems nationally, but a more obvious scenario is that it would, in all likelihood, reduce the huge political contributions from polluters who now drive the GOP machine.So there is no question that Gov. Schwarzenegger’s action on emissions in California has sent a chill up the collective spine of this administration. What would happen, the Republicans must be asking themselves, if other states should get on the bandwagon? Maybe an invasion of California is not out of the question. Considering George W.’s irrational behavior in the past, such an attack seems darkly plausible. I don’t mean a military operation, but a smear campaign aimed at Schwarzenegger. The Republicans are truly skilled at smear campaigns, as we have seen in the last few elections.No, it is not the West Nile virus and the possibility of a grizzly bear wandering around the neighborhood that frightens me, it is George W. and his support team that causes me sleepless nights. This is the 333rd article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where some residents actually do fear, fear itself.