Bearly there: Minnesota loses its wild side at a price

Published May 5, 2012, in MSUM’s, The Advocate

We all know it’s the end; the end of the semester, that is. College students near and far will be traveling back to their roots to live off their parents again, attempting to work and save money for the school year, while some will be staying in the F-M area working whatever job they’ve had the pleasure of acquiring. Good luck, everyone. Good luck, me.

Since this is the last issue, I will refrain from critiquing societal stupidity and write about something a little more pleasant: bears.

The other week, I had the opportunity to go home and visit my parents, dog and nearby sister. This was not the usual visit home, however. Numerous bear sightings have been reported by our neighbors, and an Otter Tail County sheriff even stopped by to warn my parents that the bear he saw was the biggest black bear he’d ever seen. How many bears he’s actually seen in his lifetime is still a questionable matter.

Our home, nestled in the heart of the lakes country, has woods on three sides, making it a cozy cove for animals, typically skunks, raccoons and deer – the more harmless bunch of beasts. We’re not used to black bears perusing our backyard and knocking down bird feeders.

Much to the chagrin of my mom and sister, dad, along with our dog, Samuel Baxter Willoughby Feir (Sam, for short) and I decided to scour the woods ourselves. Armed with nothing but our curiosity, we wore smiles, and excitement could be seen glimmering in our eyes.

As we walked over woodland plants and twigs walking between each maple and basswood, I kept imagining how I would attack the bear if he happened to show his frighteningly furry — yet cute, from afar — face.

Scenario No. 1: I grab a fallen branch from an ironwood tree and give him a good whack to the head. This does not knock him out, but it provides enough time for my dad and dog to run to the house. I end up in a tussle with the bear and he bites my arm, creating quite a bloody mess of a Meg. My dad then shoots his shoulder, and I’m able to run to the house amidst my battle wounds. These wounds will eventually turn into scars that I can show off as I retell my tale of bear fighting to friends.

Scenario No. 2: I climb a tree and jump on the bear’s back, tightening my arms around his neck, therefore cutting off oxygen and making him pass out. My dad, Sam and I then run like track stars to the safety of our home. We then drink tea and watch a rerun of “Downton Abbey” with my mom to calm our nerves after we’ve animatedly discussed the fear that gurgled in our guts during what would become known as, “The Bear Incident.”

Though many of us MSUM students are native Minnesotans, we’re not used to nature being so close to home. Our upbringings, for the most part, have been pretty tame in our dealings with animals. We don’t have to walk outside to use the Biffy 100 yards away, and we don’t have to sleep in a canvas-covered wagon with the fear of coyotes, wolves or bears ready to attack our livestock. Our rifles stay put unless a hunting expedition has been in the works for weeks.

This is modern-day Minnesota. Feel safe.

BY MEGHAN FEIR

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