My Reply To Matt Dyer (Polar Bear Attack)
Posted in the Anchorage Forum
#1 Aug 21, 2013
Just found Matt Dyers reply to my Aug. 6 letter from Aug. 14; here's my letter submission in response:
RE: Matt Dyer's response to my letter: Dyer completely evades the point. He states that even if he'd had an AK-47 in his tent, he would not have had time to use it (when attacked by the polar bear in Canada). That is why the armed Inuit guards are such a good idea, and one wonders why we don't have such an option in our National Parks, particularly Glacier N.P. which has the most bear attacks in the contiguous U.S. Strange that Canada parks officials advise people to hire armed Inuit guards, whereas U.S wildlife officials advise the public to rely on pepper spray (for just one example, see National Forest service "Be Bear Aware.org "). Because whenever there is a bear attack, U.S. wildlife officials always respond with firearms--not pepper spray. As for Dyers portraying the pro-firearm position as motivated by fear, that's a common ad hominem used by pro-pepper spray propagandists. Fact is, I hate guns--always have and still do. But it took a bear knocking me down and staring me in the face to realize pepper spray allowed that to happen whereas a firearm could have stopped the bear in its charge.
#2 Aug 21, 2013
Ooops...forgot to mention--that's the Portland Press Herald. See other thread for original letter, or I'll try and get it all up here--out of time for now.
#3 Aug 22, 2013
Here's Dyer's August 14 letter (will re-post mine form August 6 here in a moment also):
Gun wouldn't have helped, bear attack survivor says
Being the victim of the recent polar bear attack in Newfoundland, I read Chris Deile's Aug. 6 letter with interest ("Non-lethal policy favors bears").
Contrary to Deile's suggestion, the fact my party was unarmed had no bearing on the attack. Even if I had had an AK-47 in my tent, I never would have had time to use it. I was saved by a lot of good luck and brave companions.
When the Torngat Park was created, I believe the Inuit requested that only they be able to carry firearms in the park. One can only assume they were concerned that hot-headed pistoleros would wind up decimating the bear population.
If you are afraid of venturing out in the wild (or to the movies or shopping center) without a gun, just please stay home.
Montreal General Hospital patient
#4 Aug 22, 2013
My August 6 letter:
Letters to the editor: Non-lethal policy favors the bears
Regarding Matthew Dyer, the Sierra Club hiker attacked while in his tent at 1:30 a.m. July 24 in eastern Canada's Torngat Mountains when an electric fence failed to stop a polar bear:
CBC News reported July 27, "Parks Canada advises visitors of the park to hire an armed Inuit polar bear guard .... Dyer's group did not hire a bear guard."
Armed Inuit guards -- an excellent idea, by the way -- were quite likely not hired because the Sierra Club seeks non-lethal means of protection in a bear attack, most notably by advocating pepper spray for bear attacks.
Although the electric fence and pepper spray are steps in the right direction in trying to co-exist peacefully with bears, they're not enough to stop a charging bear, particularly in the wee hours, when bears tend to attack people in tents.(Japanese wildlife photographer Michio Hoshino experienced a worse fate than Dyer in Kamchatka, Russia, on Aug. 8, 1996, when a bear attacked him in his tent at 4:30 a.m., dragged him out of it and killed him.)
In September 1996, my friend Keith Benner and I were attacked by a brown bear in Alaska as pepper spray allowed a face-to-face encounter, risking mauling and death after the bear knocked me to the ground with a side-arm swipe to my chest.
A .454-caliber Casull or .338-caliber rifle (I've since learned) could have stopped the bear in its charge instead of leaving our fate up to the bear.(Our experience is described in the article "A Can of Spray, A Lot of Luck," in the Sept. 29, 1996, edition of the Anchorage Daily News.)
The Inuits must be shaking their heads.
#5 Aug 22, 2013
I read the Portland Press Herald online for the past three weeks or so since my August 6 letter. Never saw Dyer's letter. When Google searching my name yesterday, Dyer's letter appeared. So I wrote a (hasty) response (post #1) and submitted it to the Herald.
A couple years ago, when posting on the Anchorage Daily News, under their stories which allow for reader comments, discovered my posts only appeared to me when I was signed in to the ADN. When I wasn't signed in, my posts were not visible. Realized that when reading other posts before signing in. So that was ADN's way of suppressing my posts on the pepper spray issue--nobody could see them, which explains why there were no responses.
I've had numerous letters on the issue sabotaged, and Seattle Times reporter Florangela Davila used me as a source for her article and made me look very foolish as her article turned out to be heavily pro-pepper spray ("Spray Pepper or Bullets?"). That article came up first thing under a Google search of my name for 5-10 years. How many outdoor companies had I applied to for employment in that time Googled my name and saw that article and lost confidence in hiring me? Etc.
#6 Aug 22, 2013
My posts following #4 were removed.
#7 Aug 23, 2013
Resubmitted that letter above; hadn't cut/paste it to here but it went something like this:
Matt Dyer's response to my letter: Dyer completely evades the point. He states that even if he'd had an AK-47 in his tent, he would not have had time to use it (when attacked by the polar bear in Canada). That is why the armed Inuit guards are such a good idea, and one wonders why such an option is not advised in our National Parks, particularly Glacier N.P. which has the most bear attacks in the contiguous U.S. Strange that Canada parks officials advise people to hire armed Inuit guards, whereas U.S wildlife officials advise the public to rely on pepper spray (for just one example, see National Forest service "Be Bear Aware.org "). Because whenever there is a bear attack, U.S. wildlife officials always respond with firearms--not pepper spray.
As for Dyers portraying the pro-firearm position as motivated by fear, that's a common ad hominem used by pro-pepper spray propagandists. Do wildlife officials choose firearms over pepper spray becasue they're afraid? Of course not. Me? I hate guns--always have and still do. But it took a bear knocking me down, growling and snarling in my face while waving its paw threateningly at my head to realize pepper spray allowed that to happen whereas a firearm could have stopped the bear in its charge.
I'm presently quite ill, but if trained would love to be a bear guard. Particularly if it would help protect a vulnerable family in a tent. If not a polar bear, imagine an 1100 pound Kodiak Island brown bear charging at 30mph....pepper spray or an electric fence will not stop it from making contact with you.
#8 Aug 24, 2013
This is my letter published 2/24/2013 in Silver City Sun News (New Mexico):
There were three bear attacks in Arizona's Tonto National Forest last year - all occurring within one month's time. One involved a bear attacking a man in a tent, partially removing the man's scalp from his head. His fiancée and 1-year-old child were in the tent, and although probably traumatized by witnessing the attack, both escaped unharmed.(ABC News; Connor Burton; 6/25/12). Also, a young girl received minor injury to the back of her neck by a bear as the girl and her mother lay sleeping in a tent near Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico last year. Attributed to persisting drought conditions, further bear attacks may be incurred this year.
A problem exists as Silver City's National Forest Service office distributes "Be Bare Aware" pamphlets advising pepper spray for bear attacks even though pepper spray may not be enough to stop a charging bear.
Force is needed - not merely a stinging sensation. I learned this when using pepper spray on a charging grizzly in Alaska - watching it not stop the bear from using a side arm swipe to my chest knocking me on my butt. The bear was growling and snarling in my face while swinging its paw threateningly at my head. It ran away; I jumped up; it made a U-turn, charged again - knocking fishing partner Keith Benner against a tree before leaving.
Northbound Continental Divide Trail hikers will be misinformed should they read "Be Bear Aware" when coming through Silver City. And although the risk is low in New Mexico, it increases when hikers reach Glacier National Park - where park officials too advise pepper spray for the general public yet respond with firearms themselves when bear attacks inevitably occur.
#9 Aug 25, 2013
I spoke at Jackson City Council meeting last Monday night during public comment. I was maligned in the Planet Jackson Hole Weekly newspaper that gave a synopsis of the council meeting. Here is my response to their ridicule:
Both the Anchorage Daily News (Anchorage population 250,000)[August 1, 2013] and Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine pop. 60,000)[August 6, 2013] published my letter, but not the Jackson Hole Daily. Particularly as there were two grizzly attacks in this area recently, I submitted that letter to the Jackson Hole Daily on the same day as this city council meeting but it has yet to appear.
Jake Nichols found it necessary to malign me for taking a politically incorrect position. During public comment, I pointed out the Jackson Daily Hole, when reporting about the recent bear attacks, contained a quote that the important point was that those attacked “came away alive and they had pepper spray”. I said the actual point is that pepper spray allowed the bear to make contact–leaving their fate up to the bear. Apparently that correction prompted Jake Nichols to retaliate by making me appear irrational and illogical during public comment. So much for ethical journalism, even if it is in the form of satire, because I was well aware of the 3-5 minute limit on public comment speakers and respected that. There was no “act” to follow. Nichols resorts to the same smear campaign as Florangela Davila in the Seattle Times when she made me look extremely foolish for taking a pro-firearm position in her pro-pepper spray article (“Spray Pepper or Bullets?”). Again–unethical and immature. If you believe bears were here first and should thus have precedence over human life then say that; don’t malign others for believing differently, and don’t lie by telling people pepper spray is the best choice for defense in a bear attack. If it were the better choice, wildlife officials would choose pepper spray when responding to bear attacks instead of what they do choose–firearms.
August 25, 2013 at 2:08 pm
Pardon my sloppy writing–I hunt and peck. The above message means my Anchorage Daily News letter was published August 1, 2013 and the Portland Press Herald was published August 6, 2013. I will post the letter here and hope it remains.
#10 Aug 25, 2013
They malign and ridicule people to punish them for taking a politically incorrect position. One of the numerous methods employed to discourage people from participating in a democracy.
#11 Aug 26, 2013
Here's another post of mine under that Planet Jackson Hole column:
August 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm
Who addressed the comment to me @ August 25 6:08p?
There is nothing funny about harassing people. It’s immature and manipulative. It’s also libelous because I never said anything about “sawed off shotgun”. Nor did I say pepper spray is worthless–it can be used in conjunction with a firearm, and may even be helpful to some degree. I shared first thing from the podium that I am from Anchorage, Alaska. Jake Nichols has me from Silver City, NM (I was there appx. all of three weeks). Nothing was “rambling and off-point” about my brief public comments. This crap comes up on a Google search of my name–Jake Nichols falsely portraying me having to be talked away from the podium. My comments during public comment came directly from the letter (above) submitted to Council members before speaking, and I shared of how we were attacked and the pepper spray not stopping the bear. I then closed by sharing of Japanese wildlife photographer Michio Hoshino, that he was very knowledgable about bears and taking proper precautions yet was still attacked in his tent and killed by the bear. Everything I said was directly on-topic. Again, the Seattle Times did the identical thing–they would not publish my letter (because of it being too logical), instead portraying me to appear like an irrational fool in the article “Spray Pepper, Or Bullets”. It’s very harmful, as such false portrayal may have cost me numerous outdoor adventure jobs applied to since then (as that article which for many years always came up right at the top of links when google searching my name). When you must resort to such blatant deception and falsehood it shows your position is weak. And if you fail to see the harm you are not only unethical but irresponsible. I don’t respect that in the least–it’s junior high school.
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