Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Yellow Yellow, Bear Canisters and Teddy Roosevelt

Yellow Yellow, Bear Canisters and Teddy Roosevelt
by Kathleen Lisson

 Why Hiking is Important
Jack, a volunteer summit steward on Algonquin Mountain, shared the story of Yellow-Yellow, the only bear that ever discovered how to open a bear canister. Yellow-Yellow, named after the two tags that the DEC placed on her ears, roamed the forest below Algonquin. She was shy around humans but opened their bear canisters for the food inside. 
When Jack told me that Yellow-Yellow had been harvested by a hunter a few years ago, I felt sad. There was something awesome about the idea of hiking in the same forest as an ingenious bear that could defeat the best technology that man could invent. Yes, even if it meant that I could not rely on the effectiveness of a bear canister in the Eastern Adirondacks.
I watched a TED talk by Jon Mooallem, author of "Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America." Mooallem tells the story of President Theodore Roosevelt sparing the life of a black bear, an incident that inspired a nationwide love for "teddy bears" at a time when the reputation of bears was turning from vicious predator to underdog. 
I think Mooallem has a point, not only about bears and other wildlife, but about the wilderness they roam. 

When experienced hikers invite and support inexperienced hikers as they explore the backcountry, we empower them to create their own story about the importance of wild places like the Adirondacks in their world.

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