Costumed Bear Harasser Wanted by Authorities, Evolution

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Well, this happened:

[Alaska Fish & Game official] Lou Cenicola reported that around 7:30 p.m. Monday, a man in a "realistic-looking" bear costume ran through a group of people standing on the side of the road bear-watching. The man ran "waving and jumping" … , trying to get the attention of a sow with cubs. Cenicola says the man in the costume got within 5-10 feet of the cubs.

Cenicola reported that he ran toward the man to stop him, telling him he could be cited for wildlife harassment.

Couple of points here.

First, if someone is harassing a bear, do not "run toward" that person to try to stop him. This is especially important if he's within 5-10 feet of the bear's cubs at the time, because if you were to reach him then you would also be within 5-10 feet of those cubs. That is a bad place to be. Well, to be more specific, it seems likely that you'd shortly be within 0-1 feet of their mother. That's the bad place to be. Go find a bullhorn, if you really feel the need to exert yourself for this person.

Second, if you do insist on getting involved, shouting "Stop! You could be cited for wildlife harassment!" doesn't seem like the most compelling approach. I mean, if this person hasn't been deterred by the very real chance that he will be killed and eaten, it doesn't seem like threatening him with a ticket is going to matter. There's probably nothing you can say, in fact, so you might as well take a shot at getting something useful out of him during his last moments, like saying through the bullhorn "do you have any good stock tips" or "what's your PIN number?" He might have his card on him. Worth a try.

Sadly, no one seems to have gotten a picture of the "realistic-looking" bear costume, because I bet it wasn't that realistic-looking. Even if it had been, running around "waving and jumping" in it would have defeated the purpose anyway—assuming the purpose was to pose as a bear, and who the hell knows. Oh, were you trying to fool it into thinking you were Yogi Bear? You need a collar, tie, and picnic basket for that, genius. I don't remember Yogi jumping around a lot.

Anyway, somehow this man (or woman, but almost certainly man) survived. He left "without identifying himself," but Cenicola got the license plate number of the vehicle he drove away in, hopefully with his bear suit still on. [Update: “You have the license plate number. You figure it out,” he told Cenicola…. He then drove off without revealing his face."]

As of August 13, no charges had been filed but the investigation was ongoing. If they do charge him, the matter might turn on whether the bears did in fact feel "harassed," and as we have seen before that isn't always easy to prove.