Avoid injury in Barry encounters
I had an intense and frightening bear encounter a few weeks back. Or so I thought.There’s an old shed in my back yard, and a bear decided to break in and help me finish off the last of my Y2K stash. I walked in and found a bear munching on PowerBars (what’s an apocalypse without energy snacks?). Upon seeing me, it freaked and ran the other way. So did I. Unfortunately, there is no actual “other way” in the shed, so the bear, unlike me, was not able to run screaming for a solid two blocks before stopping for breath.OK, there’s a bear in my shed. What should I do?I decided to wait it out. I grabbed a shovel, thinking I could use it to defend myself, or, possibly, to dig a quick hole to hide in. I sat outside and waited.Ten minutes later he emerged.OK, now there’s a bear in my YARD. What should I do?I recalled the bear pamphlets that I’ve seen around town all summer: No eye contact. Make yourself look big. Don’t run. Speak to it softly, yet firmly.The bear was in no hurry, meandering in my yard for a while. I nervously clanged the shovel against the brick patio until he finally left.As soon as he was over the fence I thought, “I can’t wait to tell people about this!”And I have been. Nonstop. According to my version I was Grizzly Adams, fearlessly ushering the man-eater on his way.Then, just the other day, I read in the local paper that a woman camping nearby had a bear come into her tent while she was sleeping. INTO HER TENT! According to the article she was only slightly injured, as the bear wasn’t attacking, but just rolling her out of the way while searching for food.While it was IN HER TENT!The Division of Wildlife has declared that this bear is now a threat to the community, and, according to policy, must be destroyed.Now, if that had been ME in that tent, there would have been an equally serious threat posed to the community, one that would have required the distribution of a whole new batch of warning pamphlets …THE FACTS ON BARRY ENCOUNTERSWarning: Barry Smith has recently had a dramatic bear encounter. Should you encounter him, you are likely to find yourself in a dangerous position. Here are some tips on how to enjoy a safe, Barry-free summer.• Barry’s feeding habits are predictable – several cups of coffee first thing in the morning, causing increased verbosity, then several beers in the late afternoon, causing the same effect, only with more slurring. He should be considered at his most annoying during those times. He usually naps during the day, so this is a good time for you and your family to move freely about town. • Should you find yourself face to face with Barry, try to make yourself look big. And bored. Avoid eye contact, as this could be interpreted as a sign of interest in his tale.• Speak to him using a gentle but firm voice. Say, “You told me the bear story yesterday, please go away.”• Should Barry’s storytelling attack persist, play dead. This probably won’t stop him, but at least you’ll be lying down. • Do not attempt to run, as he often travels by bicycle and can easily keep up with you. • Do not climb a tree, as he has no problem standing around shouting his story up to you. Also, he usually carries snacks, so he will still be there talking long after your blood sugar has plummeted, leaving you too weak to escape.• Do not leave your personal contact information unattended. He is very dexterous and has been known to rifle through possessions in order to obtain phone numbers and e-mail addresses. The last thing you want is for him to be able to call you on your cell.• Report any encounters to the Division of Wildlife. Should his incessant storytelling continue, he will be captured and relocated. A second offense will mean that he will be destroyed in a humane manner.Barry Smith’s column appears on Mondays.
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