Friday, June 26, 2015
West Virginia Black Bear
The Black Bear is the state animal of West Virginia.
I was a senior in high school when I lived in the East Pear Ridge neighborhood in Huntington, WV. It was a half a day of school and I was charged with picking up my baby brother from EPR elementary school.
My mom called the house from work. This was a time before cellphones. It's doubly important because she never called unless we were in trouble or had a chore list to complete. She worked across the street from East Pea Ridge at Kmart on 64, and she was frantic that I needed to keep Trey inside the house and be extremely careful when I pickup Blaise. She said there had been a Black Bear cub wandering around the Kmart parking lot. Nobody had spotted the mother but they are ferocious in protecting their babies. Before we hung up the cub had crossed Highway 64 and was walking up East Pea Ridge.
Sure enough, I go outside and this bear cub is walking up our street! He crosses down the hill, we lived on the top of a mountain but in West Virginia they just call them hills, and makes his way through the wooded neighborhood.
I drive five street over to the elementary school to pick up Blaise. By that time the bear cub had made it to the elementary school playground! Animal protective services was called, so were the police and fire department. They barricaded us in the parking lot to stop traffic. They encouraged us to get out of the car to watch the excitement unfold. Blaise and I had front row seats to what happened next.
The bear cub, scared, lost, and confused climbed a tree. The animal services shot him a few times with a tranquilizer gun. We watched as the bear cub became drowsy and fell from the tree. They tagged him and eventually released him back into the woods. Nobody was harmed from a lost, wandering bear cub.
This is one of my favorite memories I share with Blaise. I can't imagine how scarred I would have been had this bear been unloaded upon with a shotgun. Shameful, just shameful.
Of course this young bear became irritable, he was being hounded by paparazzi and followed. He's used to living his bear life, not bothered, in the woods. What has changed in 19 years that a young Black Bear is gunned down by a police officer in Huntington, WV instead of being tranquillized, captured, and released back into the wild?