Changed grizzly advice

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There have been about half a dozen incidents this fall where grizzly attack victims failed to use bear spray, although its efficiency is now beyond doubt. Several of these latest victims were seriously injured, but others got lucky or successfully used a rifle. The latest victim happens to be a person closely placed in the Ostrom clan’s family tree.

It happened last week near Cascade, at his elk hunting camp, and he killed the big angry beast with a rifle. Game wardens decided it was self defense.

Sixteen years ago, government game officials had not yet accepted bear spray because of possible liability issues. So, their advice then was not all that helpful. I wrote a column that ended with personal comments on that advice. It was fun to read about this matter now that things have greatly changed. We published the following in the spring of 2002:

Is it booze, drugs or a glitch in the gene pool? Just when you think some citizens can’t find an old problem to create, along came new ones. Last week in Great Falls, a teenage hood and his friends tired of trying to find members of “another gang,” so our hero said he was going home. With that settled, he jammed a big-bore pistol inside his waistband and the gun went off. The result was an immediate neutering operation.

Sunday afternoon, some fun seekers were east of Kalispell at Kiwanis Lane and, after a few brews, one of them decided to do a fancy dive off the of the Old Street Bridge. The fact that the water is running high right now, muddy and 40 degrees did not enter into his calculations. Observers said the 42-year-old DID a somersault before hitting the river flat on his back. The Sheriff’s office received calls about “a guy floating down the river.” Many persons risked their lives before getting the hypothermic diver out of the water near Anderson Lane. They included Flathead Valley Search and Rescue, ALERT crew, intensive care unit, doctor, nurses and hospital staff. He was released Monday morning in “stable” condition.

Nobody knows what the bill for all of this comes to, but we can guess that it is around $5,000, along with the risks taken by the people who saved him. Most guys who do things like that don’t have enough water under their diving board, but this guy had way too much.

Back to Great Falls, a female got a ride home from the bars at midnight Saturday but was let out at the wrong house. She staggered into some other people’s house, went into the bedroom and crawled into the sack. She got six hours sleep before being identified by a resident as a stranger. She ended in jail for criminal trespass. The news release didn’t mention whether or not she got any “huggin.”

Changing the subject, Yellowstone Park officials have released another warning about grizzly bears and they’ve changed something. Former instructions for surviving a griz attack said if the bear actually got to you, “Lie down in a fetal position with your hands clasped behind your neck.” Some liked that plan because it put the victim in “a perfect position to kiss his fanny goodbye.”

On the new instructions, item 5 says “If attacked, lie flat on the ground with legs spread and hands clasped over the back of the neck.” You’ll notice, these are the same instructions given by cops to bank robbers who are being taken into custody.

This new official advice sort of bothers me. Maybe I’ll seek a compromise by still “curling up in the fetal,” but just spreading one leg.

G. George Ostrom is an award winning columnist from Kalispell.

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