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Opinion: We should get our own grizzlies

Ken Johnson
CONNECTING THE DOTS
Free Press Opinion Columnist
This bear is part of Grand Junction's Art on the Corner program.
Ken Johnson |

Drat.

The idea floated about the nation’s grizzly bear population getting back into its original mountains seems so sweetly innocent. Then along comes a young bear to say “whoa.”

It seems a 4 to 5 year old was pigging out on chokecherries in Grand Teton National Park and should have left the area some time ago. Instead, the little glutton stayed around to bulk up more, getting ready for his winter’s sleep.



So who but tourists, in their cars, clogged the road to get pictures of him and get closer to him. Park rangers tried to keep things moving, since a big traffic jam is inconvenient for all, but do you think anyone listened? Probably a few, but you knew those were likely foreigners.

The Moose-Wilson Road is an eight-mile scenic drive between Teton Village and Moose, Wyo.



Anyway, the harassed bear felt a bit put upon, what with those humans coming closer and closer and interfering with his chokecherry buffet. He became a little agitated, sort of well, grizzly.

Being a well brought up kid he didn’t eat anyone, but the rangers finally had to close the road, clear those lingering, and keep it closed for a while … because Junior was getting seriously worked up.

This little tale, I think, validates my premise that if grizzlies were re-introduced into the Colorado Rockies and the San Juans, we would have a huge tourist boom. And that means lots of money gets spent in our state; if Grand Mesa became home to some, the money would also flow into Mesa County and even Grand Junction! Seems like there are plenty of moose on Grand Mesa for bear food, too.

We know that sometimes grizzlies, being big and having huge fangs and claws, can maul humans, but it’s a rare happening. Parents probably shouldn’t let the kids try to pet them and so on, but folks in Alaska, Montana, Canada, Washington, Wyoming and Idaho get along with their grizzlies just fine.

It might be bad press to have a tourist eaten around Grand Junction, but what if it led to a boom?

Ah well, I was amazed to see that we already have at least one bear in Grand Junction already! You can see him for yourself.

Just follow my trail. I was walking from Fourth Street, on the south side of Main Street, heading to the Avalon Theatre. At the corner of Fifth and Main, a GRIZZLY (sure could be one!) suddenly appeared, rearing on its hind legs under a tree on that corner.

WHAT A SHOCK!

When my racing pulse slowed, I saw that you can have this guy in your very own yard if you want. It’s a huge bronze, displayed by Art on the Corner.

You’ll be the only kid on your block with one, particularly since the price is $48,000!

Go see it before the exhibits change.

GJ Free Press columnist Ken Johnson is founder of the Grand Junction Free Press and former owner/publisher of The Daily Sentinel. He spends his time between the Grand Valley and California.


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