Wednesday, April 28, 2010


That was the (blunt) headline of a recent London Free Press story. On the one hand, at least there's no mistake of what the story is about --- brevity is truly the soul of wit, in the Freeps' mind. On the other hand, this goofy headline is just the introduction to one of the more witless stories I've read in some time.

A bear on the loose in London has been killed.

Oh no! Well, the plot already thickens. The bear in question isn't just dead, it was killed. Was it MURDER? MURDER MOST FOUL?! /British accent

After being shot by authorities, the wounded bear was found dead behind the CPRI grounds near Byron.

Police were led by David Crockett, 3, who brought down the mighty animal with one keen shot from his trusty rifle. "Shucks, t'weren't nothin'," mumbled Crockett, as he tried to hide his face between the tail of his coonskin cap. The youngster then returned to his regular schedule of attending the John Dearness daycare facilities.

Police had advised parents not to let their children walk alone in west London after several sightings of a large black bear.

Authorities had shot the bear, which was reportedly wounded and on the move toward Byron.

As an (almost) lifelong resident of Byron, I wonder what was in our sleepy side of town that so motivated this bear to spend his last ounces of energy in a vain attempt to make it there. Did he have a reservation at JJ's Bistro? Perhaps he was supposed to pick up his cubs from Storybook Gardens. Maybe it was a craving for Byron Pizza. If I in the BP advertising department, I'd whip up a promotional campaign post-haste. "Byron Pizza: The First Choice Of Dying Bears."

Police were in the area looking for the bear, last seen cross Oxford St. west of Commissioners Rd. shortly before 7 a.m., apparently headed south.

“We’ve had four sightings that began around 4 a.m. there are officers in the area looking for it,” Const. Amy Phillipo said earlier Tuesday morning.

Businesses and schools in the area were notified, said Phillipo.

A police officer did see the bear, Phillipo said.

The constable's quote is either a weird fragmented sentence that should've had a clarifying bracketed word thrown in, or else the crack LFP editorial team simply failed to properly punctuate her two-sentence quote. This concludes today's meeting of the grammar police. And, duh, obviously one of the cops saw the bear. Who else could've shot it? I was just kidding about Davy Crockett, so surely the bear was brought down by police fire, not an armed infant. Also, was the bear properly mirandized before the cops opened fire? Did they book him on one count of being a bear? Or a count of being an accessory to being a bear?

A Ministry of Natural Resources official could not immediately be reached for comment.

"Hey Jerry, the London Free Press is on the phone. Something about wanting a quote for their story about a dead bear."
"Ugh, I have better things to do. Tell them I'm at the dentist."
"Heh heh, good one, J-Bird."

Thus concludes the opening scene of my one-act play, Jerry Tannenbaum: The Naturally Resourceful Minister.

However, in the past, wildlife biologists have said young male bears will often wander hundreds of kilometres searching for its own territory. Officials have said sightings north of London the last few years were young males coming down from the Bruce Peninsula.

Bears from the Bruce can be identified due to their distinctive mullets and green John Deere caps.

There have been several bear sightings this year in Huron County and, in 2008, there were also sightings in Middlesex County, including Strathroy and Exeter where a bear dined on several bee hives at an apiary.

I love the use of the word 'dined' in this context. Doesn't it make you picture a bear in a top hat and monocle, politely being led to a tree stump table by a beaver maitre'd, and then the deer waiter unveils a tray of hives d'oeuvres?

Bears usually flee when they hear or smell humans, unless they become used to scavenging in urban areas and associating food with humans.

Black bears rarely attack humans unless cornered, threatened (especially while protecting cubs) or wounded.

"Good work, officer! Your shot clearly wounded that bear."
"Thanks, constable. Say, did we just wound that bear and greatly agitate it as it makes its way into the heavily-populated Byron community?"
"Son of a...."

Any bear sighting should be reported to the 24-hour Bear Hotline at 1-866-514-BEAR or local police.

The definition of a shit detail is being the poor officer assigned to an eight-hour shift on the Bear Hotline. Also, I made one reference to the Simpsons episode where a bear wanders into town already, but man, the Bear Hotline just invites more comparison. Are my tax dollars going to fund this Bear Hotline? Let the bears pay the bear tax. I pay the Homer tax! I mean, home owner tax.


- Do not approach a bear and, if you encounter one, ensure it has an escape route. Back away slowly and, if it doesn't flee, try making loud noises, either yelling or banging and wave your arms.

Ok, it said just a couple of sentences ago that bears rarely attack humans unless threatened. I'd say that yelling and waving your arms like Animal from the Muppets just might be interpreted by a bear as a threatening motion.

- Make sure trash is kept in secure containers bears can't open.

- Keep grease traps on barbecues clean and pet food indoors. Bears will also feed on tree fruit and bird feeders.

Ironically, my bear feeder is constantly overrun by birds. Ah, the mysteries of nature!

- Farmers should keep land clear of dead animals.

Cut to a shot of an in-denial farmer pouring feed in front of a dead cow in a vain attempt to prove the animal isn't dead. Y'know, like this.

- Campers and anglers should keep food away from tents and vehicles.

For more bear information, visit the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources website at

SCENE: An elegant, black-tie cocktail party. A ravishing brunette sidles up to Jerry and whispers in his ear.

BRUNETTE: "So, I hear you know a lot about bears, Mr. Tannenbaum."
JERRY: "You could even say I'm.....bearwise."

Cut to stock footage of a train running through a tunnel and a rocket ship taking off. By the way, I've moved on to the script of the film version of my one-act play. The role of Jerry Tannenbaum is being played by Paul Giamatti. Christina Aguilera is the brunette. Jerry's co-worker at the Ministry is Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Byron bear is played by Alan Rickman. To be honest, I expect disappointing box office returns.


- Black bears range in colour from blond to black and can stand up to seven feet tall. Males are about one-third larger than females and can weigh up to 270 kilograms while females will weigh up to 180 kilograms.

- Diet includes mostly twigs, roots, berries, nuts (acorns), young plants and buds, insects (especially bee larvae with honey), although they will feed on the carcasses of dead animals, small mammals and fish, as well as small livestock such as sheep, goats, calves and pigs.

Not included: the delicious contents of pic-a-nic baskets. That is, unless those picnickers in Jellystone Park were dining on twigs and goat carcasses. Fun fact: they're making a live-action/CGI Yogi Bear movie with Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake as the voices of Yogi and Boo-Boo. Speaking of disappointing box office returns....

- Bears usually flee when they hear or smell humans, unless they become used to scavenging in urban areas and associating food with humans.

- Black bears rarely attack humans unless cornered, threatened (especially protecting cubs), or wounded.

What the..? These two exact sentences were used in the story itself. God, the laziness.

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