Friday, June 3, 2011

An Overview of Grizzly Bears

By C.A. Bamford

It is little wonder that Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is often compared to the mama grizzly. The Alaskan grizzly is a formidable, top-of-the-food-chain creature. With its powerful and quick reflexes, and a large heart and mighty muscles, it can run faster, swim better, and exhibit more endurance than any human we know. Those who would contemplate going head to head with Governor Palin should she decide to run in the 2012 GOP primary might do well to remember this. It is extremely difficult to outrun a bear.

We know that when the first settlers arrived on our shores, Grizzly bears ranged across much of the western half of North America. Now they are mostly in Alaska and parts of Canada. Recently, however, large numbers of mama grizzlies and their mates have been sighted at Tea Party gatherings all over the continental United States. Unusually large concentrations of them are currently being observed between Washington DC and New Hampshire, with reports that increasing numbers of them are spreading to the South and Midwest as well as the West and NW areas of the country. This is truly an incredible comeback for this fierce and magnificent species.

Black bears, who are also known for their ferocity, share some of the same terrain with the Grizzly, and it is often difficult to distinguish black bears from the grizzly because of the great color variations of both species. Old time Alaskans will tell you that one sure way to tell one from the other is to climb the nearest tree. If the animal tries to climb the tree and drag you down, it’s a black bear. If it simply rears up on its hind legs and shakes you out, it’s a grizzly.

Tragically, we saw this happen all across the nation last November. Huge numbers of grizzlies of all color variations gathered at polls everywhere and shook hundreds of liberal Democrats from the branches of federal, state, and local governments. The fallout would have been even greater had not the SEIU, the New Black Panthers, and the group formerly known as Acorn stepped in to assist with the polling process and bus in armed reinforcements.

Grizzly bears rarely actively hunt humans. They will, however, attack if surprised at close range, or to protect their offspring. There is always danger involved in getting too close to these bears. But most incidents can be avoided by practicing caution. Stay upwind of their keen sense of smell whenever possible, and NEVER, EVER come between a mother grizzly and her cubs. A number of individuals, including David Letterman and blogger, Jack Steuf recently learned the hard way that one should avoid at all costs coming between a mother grizzly and her cubs. If only they had heeded the words of poet, Rudyard Kipling, who warned, "The female of her species is more deadly than the male."

Some years back I had the opportunity to observe the strength and determination of mama grizzlies firsthand when I rode along with a couple of Alaska Dept of Fish and Game biologists on a trip through bear country just south of the Brooks Range. Two biologists and I rode in a helicopter while a spotter plane tracked the bears via signals from previously attached radio collars. When a bear was located, the helicopter would land downwind of the bear. After removing the passenger door, one biologist and I would get out, and then the chopper would take off again. The airborne biologist would lean out of the open doorway to dart the targeted bear.

The first bear was a huge male. It went down like a ton of bricks with the first dart. The chopper landed and we got to work collecting and recording data on the bear. This bear was so big that it dragged on the ground as we suspended it from a tripod of long poles as we attempted to weigh it. Suddenly, the head biologist tersely ordered us to grab some black garbage bags and fill them at a nearby stream. The bear was in distress; overheating and having trouble breathing. We dragged as much of the icy water as we could carry and dumped it on the bear as the biologist worked frantically to save it. Finally it was stabilized, but still out cold as we took off.

One attempt was abandoned when the pilot of the spotter plane radioed to let us know that the bear was between the pursuing helicopter and the two of us waiting on the ground. She had circled around and was heading for straight for us in a big hurry. Even though we had a shotgun, it was sure a relief to see the chopper land.

The last bear we darted was a smaller female with a couple of cubs. It took two darts to bring her down, but still she continued to fight going under. We finished the data collection in record time, and as one biologist held down the female grizzly who was attempting to raise her head, we sprinted for the helicopter. As we scrambled aboard, he let go and ran furiously to the chopper, yelling, "Let’s get outta here!" as he jumped in and we lifted off. The mama grizzly had struggled to her feet and was already loping towards us. She was not happy with us and was ready to let us know it.


Sarah Palin has proven herself to be a hard-working, tenacious, and ferociously intelligent adversary. She has taken on many opponents both as Governor of Alaska and as an advocate for the people of this country. Below are some of her accomplishments

Energy Independence, Development, and Environmental Stewardship

*With Governor Palin’s "Alaska Gasline Inducement Act" (AGIA), Exxon and TransCanada formed an alliance to build a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to the Lower 48. This is the largest private sector infrastructure project in North American history. Previous governors had tried, and failed for over 30 years to accomplish this project

*Opened up drilling for oil and natural gas at Pt. Thompson where Exxon had been sitting on undeveloped oil leases for decades

*Her administration sued the federal government (and won) when they attempted to restrict energy development in Alaska

*Created Alaska’s Petroleum Integrity Office to oversee all aspects of energy development

*Formed a Climate Change Sub cabinet to comprehensively and honestly evaluate climate change

National Defense/Veterans

*Supported ground-based missile defense at Alaska Bases to protect the nation from enemy attacks

*She has taken on the Obama administration repeatedly for its cuts to national defense systems in Alaska and elsewhere

*Fought for (and won) retirement benefits due the Alaska Territorial Guard members who fought during WW II, when the Obama administration tried to take them away

Fiscal Conservatism/Responsibility/Transparency

*Reduced spending in her FY1010 budget by more than one billion dollars from the previous governor’s FY budget

*Reduced earmark requests by 80% during her administration

*Vetoed half a billion dollars in spending, the largest veto in state history

*Opposed much of the "stimulus" spending allocated to Alaska, accepting only money dedicated to infrastructure projects. (The Alaska legislature later overturned her veto)

*Invested over $5 billion in state savings

*Fulfilled her campaign promise to forward fund education

*Increased educational funding for children with special needs

*Implemented the Senior Benefits Program to support low-income seniors

*Sold the private jet purchased by the previous governor and refused to make the state pay for a personal driver and chef

*Accepted less per diem for herself and her family than her predecessors, even though she had a larger family

*Signed bi-partisan ethics reform legislation into law

*Put the state checkbook online to allow constituents to see how state money was spent

Positions Held:

*City Council, Wasilla, Alaska

*Mayor, Wasilla, Alaska

*Chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

*Governor of Alaska

*Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska National Guard

*Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska Defense Force

*Chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission

*Vice Chair of the National Governors Association Natural Resources Committee

*Candidate for Vice President of the United States

*New York Times Best Selling Author

*In-Demand International Speaker

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