This is not a post about Mormons, or non-Mormons, or ex-Mormons, or Mormons-with-delusions-of-grandeur–like-“Call-me-President.”
I–along with the rest of this state, most of the nation, and even some of the world–was stunned with the news that an 11-year-old boy was dragged from his tent during a family camping trip to American Fork Canyon. He was mauled to death by a black bear.
It is what is BELIEVED to be the first human death attributed to a black bear in Utah history. Generally, black bears are afraid of humans, but because they are BEARS, they are, of course, dangerous. You don’t make it through life without knowing that.
My heart aches for this family. I was stunned to hear about the death, and frankly, as a mother, the hair went up on my arms. What a horrifying thing to have happen to your child.
But I take issue with the apparent finger-pointing now going on. The grandfather of the boy is now pointing the blame at the Forest Service, and the Division of Wildlife Resources. Apparently, because the bear had earlier attacked another group camping, they believe that not enough was done to warn campers.
This is despite the fact that after the first attack, where no one was injured, a full-on search to find–and kill–the bear was mounted. While DWR and other agencies and hunters with dogs were tracking the bear, and very, very busy, the family of Samuel Ives made camp, excited to try out the new tent that they had given their stepfather for Father’s Day.
Because no warnings had been handed out individually to campers, or the campsites closed, the family believes that the government agencies were–and are–somewhat responsible for Samuel’s death.
We are a camping family. We camp regularly, and often, and every time we go out, we are aware of the risk. You can drown in any lake. You can fall off a cliff. You can tumble down a mountain. You can also, unfortunately, be attacked by a bear, because in the MOUNTAINS you are in the bear’s home. Not the other way around.
While I agree that it would have been nice for the camping area to have been closed, I’m pretty sure that DWR and the Forest Service were pretty damn busy trying to FIND the bear, and given the rarity of black bear attacks, were more worried about removing the threat. There are SIGNS posted all over the forests, everywhere you go, WARNING that this is bear country.
My heart still goes out to this family, and I think it is natural to want to place blame when a tragic event occurs. Perhaps, even, DWR and the Forest Service can consider this for future protocol when an event like this happens, but I don’t really feel like they had enough time to personally warn every camper in this area of the attack. It was a primitive area, and they focused their efforts on getting the bear. It’s horrible that it had this result.
I would imagine that more than one of the people involved in this are heartsick right now, devastated for this family and their horrible loss. I’ve known a few DWR and Forest Service employees, and they do NOT do what they do for the money. Believe me, it ain’t there. They love the land. They love wildlife. They want others to enjoy and love it, too.
For young Samuel, I wish you Godspeed. I’m sorry your encounter with nature turned out so tragically. I ache for your family. And I am not alone.
Samuel, rest in peace.