Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Douglas here.
Folks often ask me how I decide what to write about each week. Truth be told, no matter how many important, interesting and timely subjects are hanging like ripe fruit for the picking, I use the same standard each week.
I call it the "noggin" standard.
Specifically, when I wake up each Thursday morning and go in search of my caffeine fix, it's a good bet that - among all the conundrums banging around in my noggin - the one that first fights its way to the north side of my frontal lobe is the one that finds life in Friday's Steamboat Pilot & Today. This week is no different, except my cranial capacity is more overwhelmed than ever.
Whether it's our local community organizer's disturbing need to play big man on campus by throwing a county commissioner - along with generations of "ignorant" residents of the Yampa Valley - under the Community Alliance's bus; the long-hoped-for news that the Space Station will re-open as the Space Station so many knew and loved; the alleged Jamaican lottery scam that took root here like an invasive weed; or the fast-approaching decision on Steamboat 700, I could have written a column each and every day this week without breaking a sweat.
Still, even with all those subjects fermenting, the one that escaped my bean - only to slide south and stick in my craw - is last week's unsolved killing of a bear in an alleyway in downtown Steamboat Springs.
In case you're the one soul in Routt County who hasn't been following this whodunit, here's a bit of background.
According to the Steamboat Pilot & Today, at about 10 p.m. July 20, Towny Anderson, who lives next to the driveway where the bear was killed, heard a gunshot. Anderson looked out his window and saw the slain bear lying on the ground next to an overturned garbage can. Anderson didn't see who shot the bear.
Jim Haskins, area manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, told the Pilot & Today that his officers are treating the killing as a crime because, "It's not like a situation where someone was protecting human life or property or anything like that." While the bear was known to raid trash in that vicinity, Haskins said, neighbors didn't believe the bear was a big problem.
In spite of what Haskins thinks about how residents in the neighborhood felt, someone decided to dispatch the 200- to 300-pound adult male bear to Yogi Heaven on a one-way ticket.
And that's a shame.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not some tofu-eating environmentalist who thinks humans should seek forgiveness for our carnivorous ways. Au contraire, one of life's joys is deciding whether the roasted flesh of critter du jour - preferably bloody rare - goes best with a merlot or a cabernet sauvignon. One look at my visage is proof positive that cholesterol-laden burgers and filets, from every category on the food chain lower than homo sapiens, regularly cross the threshold of my overly worked oral cavity.
But the killing of the bear in a downtown alleyway - absent a valid self-defense claim - is even too much for me.
Let's be clear. This is certainly not a case of a rancher protecting his livestock, as every rancher has the right to do. And, given the reported facts, this doesn't even appear to be a case of a city homeowner protecting property. This appears to be a case where someone was tired of a bear doing what a bear is going to do - look for food scraps in our trash - and killed it.
I hope I'm wrong.
I hope there's an innocent explanation for why someone would needlessly shoot and kill a bear.
I hope there's an innocent explanation for why someone would not immediately report that he or she had killed the bear.
Most of all, I hope the individual involved will find the courage to step forward and accept responsibility.
That might make an unbearable killing more bearable.
To reach Rob Douglas, e-mail Rob.Douglas@Comcast.net