A Blaze of Gory

She had a name. Well, in a sense she had a name. In our propensity for anthropomorphic depictions of nature’s other creatures, we gave her a name. Blaze.

Blaze was a 20-year-old sow, which sounds harmless, until you add she was a 20-year old Grizzly bear sow.

Blaze lived her entire life in Yellowstone National Park, raising a number of cubs to maturity over the years. There are many stories and images of Blaze. Unfortunately, it is this last one that brought her to the attention of the public.


She made the mistake of being an Apex predator, acting as an Apex predator, in an area of the country we have specifically preserved for Apex predators, by hunting and killing another Apex predator (although one that wasn’t THE Apex predator in this situation.)

Her mistake was selecting a human as her prey. From what I have read about 63-year old Lance Crosby, the man who was killed, he fully embraced the idea of co-existing with these animals. He may have even known her name, or more correctly, the name we choose to make her seem more, well, more like us.

As a result of the manner in which Blaze killed Mr. Crosby, consuming part of him, presumably feeding her cubs, then ‘caching’ the body for later consumption, the ultimate Apex predator determined she must be killed.

I wonder what Lance Crosby would have said about this. I can only assume he understood the risks associated with being in the wilderness with the Grizzlies. I am certain he would have chosen a different way to exit this level of existence, but I wonder if he would demand that we kill Blaze and sentence her two cubs to a life in a zoo, removed from the freedom Blaze enjoyed for her 20 years on this planet.

The conflict between humans and the other creatures that inhabit the earth has been going on since man first evolved. There was a balance once. Man hunted what he needed, animals killed humans in defense of their own or themselves, and it followed the pattern of life.

Now, we have humans that pay to hunt lions just because they can. We have humans that are willing to guide other humans to kill such majestic animals for the sake of a few dollars. That is a whole other argument.

In this case, I think Blaze should have been given the benefit of the doubt. Since Mr. Crosby is not here to tell us what happened, isn’t it only fair that she be allowed to plead not guilty by reason of being an Apex predator by birth and given another chance? If she was guilty of anything, it was of being a mother that wanted to feed her children (there is that anthropomorphism again.)

In our position as the ultimate Apex predator, we had an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the blind survival instincts of nature. We put ourselves into an environment in which these other predators live. When they act in a manner consistent with their nature, who are we to decide that is any less correct than the many things we have done against this world?

But we didn’t. We killed Blaze and imprisoned her cubs; visiting the sin of the mother on the children, as it were.

If we really want to preserve nature and the creatures that live on this planet, then we have to accept the fact that they will act as they have evolved.

If you going to hike in Yellowstone National Park, dive in the ocean, walk through a jungle, remember you are entering the food chain and you may not be on top. If you do not want to leave this world as a snack, keep that in mind.

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