Picture them lined up along the 405, end to end, for a familiar morning ritual. The clamor of the morning zoo rumbles from each car as horns blare, windows lower, doors pop open and hundreds of commuters scream.
The grizzly bears are going to work.
Their huge, sinewy, fur-covered arms pry car doors open with a screech of metal and reach inside for breakfast. The meal comes with no strings attached or, indeed, any fur, horns, claws, fangs or anything else that can make the day’s most important meal a hassle. True, it’s a little fatty, but it’s hard to beat the convenience when you’re a 1,500-pound apex predator with places to go and things to maul.
By 9 o’clock it’s all over. Everyone who’s going to escape – ha! – has, and the bears are sated and gnawing disinterestedly on bones, cracking them open with their powerful jaws and slurping out the marrow.
Welcome to California in 2050.
At least, that could be the future, if we dare but dream.
What America needs is a massive grizzly bear breeding program. We need to breed hundreds of thousands of these magnificent creatures to ensure that there are enough bears roaming the streets of Los Angeles. It will cost millions or possibly billions of dollars, and I understand that some will object to another large government program and protest that this is just grizzly bear welfare. But it is so much more than that.
This idea harks back to the ideals of our forefathers: self-reliance, competition, bravery and, of course, adventure. As a nation, we have drifted away from these noble principles. Right now a person is much more likely to be injured in an automobile accident or fall than they are by a grizzly bear. We’ve grown soft – soft and coddled by a world without predation.
Won’t somebody think of the children – the millions of fat, slow and perfectly edible children? There’s no scientific evidence to back me up on this but the ever-growing problem of attention deficit disorder among kids will vanish once we introduce grizzly bears to our schools and playgrounds. Most children will have no problems focusing when even a small grizzly takes a 35 mph run at them.
Tragically, there are not enough grizzly bears alive now to eat any but a very few children. Only 1,000 grizzly bears are alive in the wild, compared to the 50,000-100,000 that were around in Lewis and Clark’s day. Grizzly bears once roamed from Alaska to Mexico; they tromped through what’s now San Jose, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Our fair state of California sports a picture of a now extinct subspecies. The problem is, humans are bad for grizzly bears – far worse than grizzly bears ever were for us.
Roads cut and destroy bear ranges. Off-road vehicles, those motorized monstrosities, wreck habitats. People even hunt grizzlies, as if there were a surplus. We do all this to an animal that would like to be left alone. Wild grizzlies eat mostly grass and berries, though they also enjoy fish and the occasional elk calf. In the wild, mammal meat makes up around 10 percent of their diet.
While it’s possible that the last thing grizzlies want or need is more contact with humans, I think we’re going to have to ask them to do us a favor and eat some of us. Grizzly attacks are rare, but there is hope we can change that.
We’ll need strict hunting laws. Anyone who takes a rifle to one of our furry friends should spend a minimum of 15 years in jail. Frankly, such cowards deserve execution, but we must temper justice with mercy and hope that we can learn to defend ourselves with our bare hands or, at most, homemade spears.
With diligence and American know-how, we can look forward to a day when our children and grandchildren can be eaten. Until that day – and in case naysayers shout down my idea – we must work for conservation.
You can send donations to a fine bear rescue program, the Wind River Bear Institute, at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Foundation, 1420 East Sixth Avenue, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620.
It’s a poor substitute for grizzly bears at a Lakers game, but it’ll have to do.
Brendan Buhler is the Daily Nexus editor in chief and is only slightly influenced by the fact that grizzly bears devouring half of UCSB’s administration would make great news.