What is with all the uproar over a half-grown bear wandering into Conway?
Was that thing really a threat to the community? Was our populace in danger? Don’t they know Arkansas was once the Bear State, and here everybody gets flummoxed because one shows up in the western part of the city.
All right, when we were the Bear State, things were different. We did not have air conditioning. We didn’t have telephones, much less computers and PDAs, which somebody tells me means personal digital assistant. I’m not with it. PDA once upon a time meant public display of affection.
We did not have indoor plumbing when we were the Bear State.
So, was all the excitement really necessary?
Yes, in this corner’s opinion. Sure, the bear was the equivalent of a teenager kicked out of home by its mama. The youngster was lost, confused and hungry, probably. Maybe somebody’s dog barked at it so it ran up a tree — like scared bears do.
Estimates of how big this bear was ranged all the way from 100 pounds to 300 pounds. Between Conway police, firemen and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission people, they zapped the bear with tranquilizer, rigged a couple of bounce houses then blasted it out of the tree with a fire hose.
An AGFC biologist took the bear home with him, since it was midnight or so, then they released the bear somewhere in the Ozark National Forest, where bears are supposed to be.
It’s a shame this young bear can’t find a buddy or two to tell about its Conway experience. “Fellows, you won’t believe what happened to me when I decided to look around that town. You would have thought I tried to rob a bank or said something nasty about the school principal. Everyone just got all bent out of shape.”
Yes, it was the right thing to do to combine forces and remove the bear when it came to town. It has happened before, and it will happen again.
It doesn’t quite satisfy the situation to say our city has moved out to where the critters live. Yes, this is true, maybe, when deer are seen in town. But bears, no. Bears haven’t been residents of this county for a hundred or more years.
When the Arkansas bear restoration started in 1958, none were released in Faulkner County. Some were placed at Gulf Mountain Wildlife Management Area near Scotland in Van Buren County – 45 miles or so as the crow flies from Conway but a lot more as a bear wanders.
Bears do travel. Some years back, one took off from White River National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Arkansas and headed east. It swam the Mississippi River, moseyed north in Mississippi then bypassed Memphis and showed up near Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee.
Most people are afraid of bears.
Toss out the words bear, alligator and snake in a gathering and watch and listen to the reactions. OK, add spider to really stir emotions.
Those wildlife biologists tell us that a bear will run from humans, and they are right in maybe 99 percent of instances. That other instance when the bear is a mama with young-uns? Yeah, then the bear is a dangerous one.
Mama bears with cubs aren’t the ones that go wandering around and into a town like Conway.
We’ll just smile a little at the antics associated with this latest bear in town, the one somebody named Foster. This bear made it to Twitter and YouTube and probably did not even recollect cousins Yogi or Smokey.