The Naturalist's CornerWritten by Don Hendershot
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Gun-toting tourist deters smarter than average bear
Setting: A campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, nightfall, Jan. 13, 2009.
911: Hello, 911, what’s the nature of your emergency?
Caller: Hey, hey, hey, it’s an emergency in nature!
911: Just stay calm sir.
Caller: That’s easy for you to say — there’s not a gun pointed your way.
911: I recognize that voice! It’s Yogi Bear. Did you say gun, Yogi?
Yogi: I didn’t say bun, although a bun is what I was looking for.
Voice in the background: Step away from the picnic basket.
911: I’m sorry Yogi, but you must be mistaken about the gun. The GPS signal from your phone says you’re in a national park.
Yogi: Did you hear that Boo-Boo? It’s been so long since I ate, I’m starting to hallucinate.
Voice: I said get away from the picnic basket!
Yogi: Hey, hey, hey, Boo-Boo, you talk to the hallucination, I’m gonna eat some bacon.
Boo-Boo: I don’t know Yogi, he looks real to me.
Yogi: That’s because you’re an average bear and you know me — I’m smarter — Wait! What?
Gunshots in the background
911: Yogi, Yogi, are you still there? Are you OK?
Yogi: Hey, hey, hey, if you call dodging bullets OK, then I’m better than the average bear. I think I’ll just leave that pic-a-nic basket right there.
Voices from tent one: What was that?
Quick, get your gun, someone’s shooting at us!
911: Oops, I was wrong. It’s now legal for tourists with conceal and carry permits to tote loaded guns in the park.
Boo-Boo: Duck, Yogi!
911: Right, lame duck president George W. Bush rescinded former neo-con god Ronald Reagan’s 1980s ruling that states firearms in national parks and refuges must be, “... rendered temporarily inoperable or are packed, cased or stored in a manner that will prevent their ready use.”
Tent two: Somebody’s shooting at us from that other tent, get your gun!
It’s right here, in my sleeping bag, locked and loaded.
Fire at will!
Which one’s Will?
Yogi: Duck or no duck, that’s a pretty lame ruling – what gives?
911: Well, there’s a saying in politics, “you gotta dance with the one that brung ya,” and the NRA’s been lobbying hard to get that rule changed. Besides it’s a way for Dubbya to stick a thumb in Obama and the Dem’s eye – a parting shot.
Tent three: Yo’ mama? I’ll show you yo’ mama! (pulls his gun and starts firing through the flap.)
Yogi: Hey, hey, hey the shots are parting this way. Pardon me, while I run away.
The campground has erupted into a full-blown firefight as two shadowy figures (one large, one small) slip away through the darkening woods.
Boo-Boo: Yogi, what was that all about? Why were all those people shooting at us and everything?
Yogi: Hey, hey, hey it’s just the way our departing compassionate conservative has decided to make our national parks and refuges safer.
Boo-Boo: But how does allowing people to carry immediately accessible loaded guns make things safer — especially for animals like us or mountain lions or endangered timber rattlesnakes or other animals that people think of as scary or dangerous?
Yogi: Ah, Boo-Boo, you’re just a baby bear. No one expects you to understand the workings of great, humanitarian minds.