The Dew-Line Bears
The Spotted Owl was the vaunted "indicator species" of the white-buck-shod, trust-fund East Coast Environmental Elites. The Goofies: the Rachale Carson people. A Bellwether. The Canary in the Coal Mine thing. The Cascading Disaster Omen. Just the Beginning of Der Untergang des Westens.

Funny about the way they put all those honest wood-workers and cutters and drivers out of business in Oregon and elsewhere and prevented the 75 % of usable post-fire timber from being extracted in a timely way. "Mold and Decay are Nature's Way." No salvaging a burned area.

Are the West's woods workers and mill operators still on welfare rolls and thronging to AA? I understand the Billy Goat Gruff Underbridge Trolls Brigades pay no attention to the families of loggers who've now moved in with them under the bridges. Pity about the gaunt women and kids though. Particularly amusing because the Mexican Burrowing Owl and the Barred Owl are genetically identical to Spotted Owl. Just more strong-minded, tougher at kick-boxing.

Possibly true that the forest industry did use the Owl as an excuse to efficient-ize, close the marginal, smaller, less profitable operations. Thank God for the Senate that represents area concerns so the greens can't close the entire west down for viewing. At their leisure. From the air.

I recall that Polar Bears were disappearing back in around '62. My fellow laborers at the Conservation Foundation in Washington, D. C. were terribly moved by the bears' plight. Deeply concerned about the shooting of bears, hastening their decline to one or two zoo specimens.

And the bears didn't harm people either. Just like wolves didn't. Just patted them down. Gently tasted them or something. "No Proven Person Deaths By Wolf" was the headline before a New Scientist letter came in, from a Siberian Ranger. Said he could document about 500 people deaths from bear and wolf in the Siberian area, where he was just after War II.

Not deaths of people hurled from fleeing horse-drawn troikas to slow down pursuing howling packs. Stalking deaths. Deaths by creatures stalking folks who'd forgot their .50 caliber rifles, their buffalo Sharps rifles. Hunting deaths.

Then there were the squads of moldy damp dowagers (and me) sitting around tut-tutting the various wilderness declines. The Tabbard Inn in D.C. was stylish, crawled with English chic, English accents, post-menopausal dowagers with tea stains and cups, pinky up. All visitors and guests of the Conservation Foundation stayed there at the Tabbard Inn.

It was festooned with damp hangings and damp rugs. The Fedders air conditioners squeaked and squealed as I drank myself into a stupor each night after work, spooned myself to sleep with jellied gin. A wholesome treat that. I understand the Tabbard has been rebuilt and is now modern and trendy. Nevertheless I shudder at the memory and continue to loath D.C. with all my heart.

Meantimes, the wildlife scientists and bear aficionados discovered a few tens of thousands of [surprise!] polar bears in various arctic attic closets. They'd failed to unpack them for the stories they did to terrify National Geographic readers. Bears were everywhere. This was kept secret as you might suspect, even when ... after the recent pitiful pictures of bearsontheinexorablymeltingicefloes looking hungry ... a tranche of 13,000 bears were discovered elsewhere in the Arctic. Found 'em with Google satellite photos.

I live for the day when Google sat photos will uncover other startling Arctic memorabilia. Viz a Dew-Line Installation with a large ground legend, spelled out with empty 55 gal fuel drums. A living legend. This bored Dewey went bush one winter, acted out by cranking up one of the leftover D-12 Caterpillar tractors and, on his off time, spelled out his feelings. Readable by shocked matrons peering out of Boeing 747 portholes at 30,000 feet. Big letters. By an Airman 3rd Class disgruntled Dogie who'd had it and wrote out his feelings there in the cold dark twenty-three-hour nights horsing that big roaring diesel Dew-Line Cat. Wasting future generations worth of discarded fuel. The Winter of his Discontent?

From 30,000 feet, just discernible from the Over-the-Pole flights his agonized


There are stories --- probably apocryphal --- that Questions were asked, in Ottawa, in Parliament ... shocked citizens protested. Air Canada redrew air routes, diverted flights away from our Dogie's heartfelt protest. Section eighted him out of A.F. as unstable "D."

Naturally it drew B-52 American pilots and early warning equipment from thousands of miles away. Diverted due to skipper's gut feeling ... "just a hunch ... but a big one ... I wonder if....?" USAF skippers with a hunch that the Big Bear Russian Bear bomber aircraft were making overflights near the cairn's legend. USAF skippers had a hunch The Bear's big, big ... BIG FUCKIN' BEAR Bombers ... practicing their English. Learning English by lurking a mysterious Arctic English Lesson site. What the...?

The real puzzle though wasn't the English Slang and Lit for Russian Air Crews lesson. Swarms of smaller F14s and other US craft drifting up for a look-see because they'd heard... Yes. Bears lived there. Some investigating 14s ran out of JP-4 fuel and had to ditch and parachute down to ruin prime polar bear habitat. Rare. Putatively extinct polar bears. Better safe than sorry, eh?

--- Paul Nickel
Send us e-mail


Go Home

Go to the most recent RALPH