“Remember to give them their distance all the time.” was the caption below the picture of a mother bear and her cubs in a recent edition of this newspaper. Those among us, who spend their daily lives up in the high country, never take the need for distance for granted. However, the season of the camera crazies is just beginning.
Early spring and summer brings out the wanna-be wildlife photographers presented with a sudden, unexpected photo op. They think that statement doesn’t apply to them. Recent reports from parks all across the country feature incidents involving people and animals sparring after someone has crossed the line and gotten too close for comfort. Bison, moose, elk, and bear are the victims so far.
The closer we get to reopening these public spaces, most everyone will have forgotten that allowing distance has always been a part of the terms of animal/human co-existence. Picture one park visitor moving slowly forward peering through a viewfinder as they get closer to the bison baby grazing in the meadow. It never ends well.
Notifications to leave the baby animals where you find them can now be found in suburban subdivisions as well as overcrowded beaches and hiking trails. As our state and national parks reopen, it is already apparent that the same thoughtless people who are responsible for taking this newfound freedom too far are already out there. Once the word social was paired with the word distance, that jarring juxtaposition was ripe for analysis. The questions asked about the facts that support the required number of feet to maintain proper distance have been fast and furious.
If the wildlife managers thought they had problems in previous years, they may soon find themselves facing the unruly hordes of bored, frustrated, angry folks demanding their rights to not keep any distance between them and anything living. The how-to manuals to maintain safe socially distances have not been standardized. The outdoor venues keep opening and reopening requiring local residents to read the regulations closely and follow what restrictions have allowed the state and city officials to have the earliest openings.
Soon, the “Remember to give them their distance all the time” signs will be spotted in the most unlikely of places. Humans and animals alike could be sporting masks and gloves. The only thing we can count on is the approaching summer will be long and hot.
By DOLLY VISCARDI
Special to the Herald Times