Thursday, May 20, 2010

Disturbed and Peturbed

There were two stories in the news recently that I found particulary disturbing. First, at the end of March a young teenage girl from Greeley went missing and was believed to be kidnapped. She was supposedly walking to a friend's birthday party and never showed up. Now the police have found a young girl's body very close to her family's home in a drainage ditch. There is no word yet if it is indeed the body of Kayleah Wilson of Greeley, Colorado or if authorities will have to run DNA tests to determine identity. I imagine if it is her and she was murdered just after she allegedly went missing, than a DNA test will have to be run because of decomposition in water.

It angers me that people treat others in such a way, particularly vulnerable individuals. I hope authorities find who did this and treat them with the harshest treatment allowable under the law. There needs to be justice for this young girl and her family.

Second, 41-year-old Stephen Westmoreland of Jackson, WY was found guilty of shooting and killing a young female grizzly bear last fall during hunting season. He was fined merely $500 - a charge that could have been a year in jail and $10,000.

Westmoreland was elk hunting last September in the Ditch Creek area north of Jackson and claimed to have unknowingly walked up on a grizzly feasting on a moose carcass just 40 yards away. At his trial, he claimed to be carrying a deer head and cape and said it was harder to shoot a moving target. He took the bear as it stood over its carcass staring at him.

Granted, had the bear charged at that distance it would have taken only three seconds to reach the man. But did he really need to resort to killing a bear that was not showing any signs of provocation? I believe he should have been carrying a bear spray cannister like most local hikers in Teton National Park carry. Experts claim that it is actually more effective at stopping an attacking bear than bullets -which may or may not stop the bear (plus it works on the occasional aggressive bison or moose). If he was carrying bear spray this bear's senseless death could have been avoided. I think the National Park Service and hiking magazines and manuals need to educate the public on the purchase and use of bear spray - particularly now that federal law permits handguns in national parks. (A hand gun used on a bear would anger the bear and do nothing more.)

Anyhow, the bear he killed, No. 615, had grown up in front of visitors to Grand Teton National Park. This grilly bear was dear to me because I photographed her, at close range, the last day I resided in Jackson Hole. She was a beautiful bear and I anticipated returning year after year to photograph her and watch as she raised her own offspring. I hope that when I return to Jackson Hole to photograph I can see more amazing grizzly bears - though I'll always remember my first, bear number 615.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Beginnings

So, today I start my own blog. I am not sure why I have waited this long to begin. Procastination? Or perhaps it's because I am a little frightened about sharing anything remotely personal except to really dear friends? Well, the world is changing and I must adapt. Hence, my own blog!