Humans are just another link on the food chain

Arizona Daily Wildcat


I am part of the food chain, and so are you. Sure, humans may possess more developed brains than other species. We may know how to dress ourselves and how put good table manners to use. But when it comes down to the simple truth, we are just another link on the food chain.

Last July, a 16-year-old girl named Anna Knochel was mauled by a bear on Mt. Lemmon. She was a camp counselor who was in a tent alone when the attack happened early in the morning. The bear bit her shoulder, thigh, and legs before being chased away by an adult camp staffer. Later it was killed by two deputies who had responded to the attack.

If you've been keeping in tune with the local news recently, you've probably heard that Knochel is now recovering from leg surgery and is awaiting a rare nerve transplant. But that is not all she has been doing. She is also in the process of filing claims against the 4-H Club, the U.S. Forestry Service, and the Coronado National Forest Service for a total of $15 million.

Although I sympathize with Anna's situation and believe that this incident was a great tragedy, I am dismayed that the victim is placing the blame on these three agencies, none of which were the direct cause of her attack. She was simply in the wrong plac e at the wrong time.

Unlike Anna, who was alone in her tent, many campers nowadays make themselves targets for bear attacks and then turn around and blame the national park wardens. And while no one deserves to be attacked by a bear, everyone who partakes of the camping exper ience should be aware that it comes with its own set of dangers.

According to The Defender's of Wildlife homepage on the Internet, "most bear attacks occur in national parks, where two critical forces are at work: high densities of bears possibly interested in human foods, and high densities of backcountry users not ac customed to hiking or camping in grizzly country." In other words, if you are planning on entering the wilderness, plan on possibly encountering wild animals.

Oddly, this seems to be a big surprise for some people who believe that humans are the only "true" species on earth. When we invade the land that we did leave for our wildlife, we have to understand that we're invading THEIR territory. See, the woods are like a home to a bear. What would you do if you found an intruder in your home? You'd try your best to get rid of him. It's as simple as that. Bears also have the right to live in and defend their homes.

Wardens can only protect campers to a certain degree. When campers insist on feeding bears because they have this warped idea that bears are cute and cuddly animals, the foresters cannot be blamed. Southam Newspapers commented on Sept. 28, 1995 that "bear s are awesome creatures, the largest land bound flesh-eaters on planet earth. Grizzlies have been known to carry off small horses and steers. They can weigh as much as 385 kilograms and stand 2.5 meters high when they rear up."

I realize that Knochel was not guilty of feeding the animals; but she as well as all other campers should realize that each time a person enters the wilderness they put themselves at risk. Her situation is a tragedy, but she should concentrate on getting better rather than on how much money she can accumulate from the incident.

Just as Anna's attack was an unfair circumstance, so was the fact that the bear was hunted down and killed. The bear did not know any better; he was merely playing his part in the food chain. Think about it: it's believed that humans started out as apes. Maybe we haven't changes as much as we think we have.

Jill Dellamalva is a sophomore majoring in English. Her column, 'Focused Light,' appears every other Friday.