|Bear video here.|
Of course, there was also that big windstorm of a few years back. My house was quite an attraction for news vans on that eventful day. We got interviewed by Eyewitless News types twice, and were asked really stupid questions along the lines of, "Were you terrified for your children?" Which, of course, I was. The kids thought it was all very exciting and wanted to go running out into the night and check out the crashing 12 ton eucalyptus trees. We didn't let them however, mostly because we are caring parents.
But nowadays with rain pretty much a thing of the past and windstorms of that magnitude only happening once every century or so, there are only two reasons left for Eyewitless News vans to ever come and visit Sierra Madre. One would be the free roaming paroled child molesters City Hall always somehow forgets to tell us about, and the other would be bears.
Yesterday's excitement was all about bears. Odds are that this would be the case. The big critters do outnumber child molesters in this town, so chances were pretty good it was a bear day. One big tip off was the helicopters. Unlike bears, child predators are never tracked from the air. They're almost always older gentlemen, mostly overweight, and therefore just not all that quick on their feet.
The best way to track a child predator is to park about four news vans out in front of his house and hope you can catch him on camera peeking out from behind a window curtain. Remember, they can be shy. Especially when there are adults in the area.
But I digress. Here is the on-line news site account of yesterday's bear sighting as told to us by the Eyewitless News team themselves.
SIERRA MADRE, Calif. (KABC) -- A mama bear and her cub were spotted roaming around a neighborhood on the border of Sierra Madre and Arcadia Thursday morning.
The bears was spotted scurrying up a tree at Stone House Road and Grandview Avenue just before 8 a.m. The sighting drew a crowd of about two dozen eyewitnesses.
At one point, the mother bear came out of the tree and paced back and forth. Police were nearby keeping a close eye on the bears.
The mama bear would often stay underneath the tree to protect her cub. Police eventually fired bean bag rounds in the direction of the bears, causing them to leave the tree and head back into the foothills.
One reader did not believe this was true, and went to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website to prove the case. This is what the CDFW had to say (link):
California Black Bear Public Safety Incidents - CDFW has recorded 12 “bear attacks” since 1980. In some cases, the details of these attacks were not completely known. According to the CDFW’s statewide public safety guidelines, a wild animal attack is defined as “physical contact, injury or death.”
A dozen bear attacks in this state since 1980 is not a great amount. The CDFW also lists each of these attacks, and not a single one of them resulted in a human death.
I thought this might be as good a time as any to make some comparisons and see just how twelve nonlethal bear attacks in 34 years stacks up against some of the other beasties running around these parts. I figured dogs might be an interesting comparison since Sierra Madre has so very many of them. A website called DogBiteLaw.com supplied me with these alarming statistics (link):
The most recent USA survey of dog bites conducted by CDC researchers concluded that in 2001, 2002 and 2003 there were 4.5 million American dog bite victims per year (1.5% of the entire population). Sacks JJ, Kresnow M. Dog bites: still a problem? Injury Prevention 2008 Oct;14(5):296-301.
885,000 bites per year -- almost one out of every 5 -- are serious enough to require medical attention. (Centers for Disease Control, Dog Bites, accessed May 10, 2014.)
Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (1,008 per day). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nonfatal Dog Bite–Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments — United States, 2001, MMWR 2003;52:605-610.
In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs. (Centers for Disease Control, Dog Bites, accessed May 10, 2014, quoting from American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2012 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report [online]. 2012. [cited 2013 Oct 24]. Available from URL: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Documents/news-resources/statistics/2012-Plastic-Surgery-Statistics/full-plastic-surgery-statistics-report.pdf.)
16,476 dog bites to persons aged 16 years or greater were work related in 2001. (Ibid., Nonfatal Dog Bite–Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments — United States, 2001, MMWR 2003;52:608.
5,900 letter carriers were bitten in 2012. (US Postal Service.) Los Angeles is the worst city in the USA for mail carrier dog bites. (Link.)
The article goes on to state that the average national yearly human death toll due to dog mauling is 31. When comparing that shocking statistic to the 12 non-fatal black bear attacks here in California since 1980 you can see that our ursine neighbors are the fuzzy wuzzy equivalent of Mother Teresa when compared to this nation's murderous mutt population.
So what about the Police Officers who turn out in fairly large numbers each time a bear is sighted here? Can they be more deadly than the actual bears themselves? According to the following information that is apparently the case. Here is an article from a site called MintPressNews.com that shares these shocking statistics (link).
US Police Have Killed Over 5,000 Civilians Since 9/11 - Though Americans commonly believe law enforcement’s role in society is to protect them and ensure peace and stability within the community, the sad reality is that police departments are often more focused on enforcing laws, making arrests and issuing citations. As a result of this as well as an increase in militarized policing techniques, Americans are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist, estimates a Washington’s Blog report based on official statistical data.
Though the U.S. government does not have a database collecting information about the total number of police involved shootings each year, it’s estimated that between 500 and 1,000 Americans are killed by police officers each year. Since 9/11, about 5,000 Americans have been killed by U.S. police officers, which is almost equivalent to the number of U.S. soldiers who have been killed in the line of duty in Iraq.
So perhaps the greatest threat posed by bears roaming the streets of Los Angeles County is that they attract some far more dangerous predators from the law enforcement field. Helicopters and all.
On Tuesday evening the City Council will convene and make an important decision on McMansion development here in Sierra Madre (link). It will be one of the most momentous meetings of its kind in this community's history.
Just don't expect any Eyewitless News vans to be there. They're out looking for bears.