Oops! Did I say attack?
Good question. Well not really, but the heart behind the question is a good one. You see, we are concerned about your BBQ and other bear attractants found around your home, but we don’t really think your BBQ is going to be attacked.
In fact, the term “attack” is a term we never use when describing human-bear conflicts; it’s too sensational, too dramatic, and always inaccurate. Bears aren’t bloodthirsty or terrifying and they’re certainly not stalking you or doubling as a furry boogey-man in the forest. So sleep easy.
At the same time, please don’t try and hug a bear; they’re not altogether that huggable! And though the chances of my 4-year-old sleeping without tightly hugging his teddy bear is none-to-nil, bears in real life don’t make for good sleeping companions – unless you’re a bear yourself.
What I’m trying to say is this: the words we use when we talk about bears really influences how we think about them and behave towards them.
If we talk as though bears are merciless killers than of course our response to conflict bears is to kill them. Or, if your understanding of a bear is on par with a cute and cuddly kitten and you think you should follow the bear into the forest to Instagram your first really close bear encounter, you’re dead wrong. Hand feeding, or getting close to bears is not an option and we must be intentional about keeping a safe and respectful distance of bears. If in doubt, use a telephoto lens!
Obviously, how we talk about bears matters. In the world of bear advocacy let’s ensure the verbiage we use to describe bears is clear, non-sensationalized, pro-bear, pro-people, and media-friendly. What we say counts and the message of bear advocacy is one that must spread. So let’s get it right.
At any rate, regarding your BBQ, just keep it clean and we’re all good. Removing the grease from the drip tray/can and cleaning it is the #1 priority.
PS – Speaking of Instagram, we’ve joined its’ ranks and can be found at @BearSmart.