TELLURIDE, Colo. (MTN)—A 74-old woman, Donna Munson, was killed and partially eaten by a bear recently at her home near Ouray, on the edge of the San Juan Mountains. She had been feeding bears for years, including the one that killed her.
Reflecting on this in Telluride, on the other side of Imogene Pass, Seth Cagin sees the woman as a victim of her own delusion. The woman's delusion, and a common one to a certain group of people, is that "hungry animals need them," says Cagin, publisher of The Telluride Watch. "No amount of reason or punishment can convince them otherwise. It's a maternal instinct gone terribly wrong."
He continues: "I write not to chastise Donna Munson, even though a dozen or more of the bears she loved will now die as a result of her delusion. I am more interested in the notion of predation of humans.
"It seems that nothing makes people more squeamish than the feeling that we may be regarded as food by another species," he continues. Except in a few places, such as tigers in India and occasionally mountain lions in the American West, humans have killed the predators -- including the two major predators in the food chain of the San Juans Mountains: the grizzly and the wolf," he adds.
"That leaves us at the top of the food chain, which apparently is where we feel most comfortable."
But this is not natural, he goes on to say. "Despite human unease about becoming the prey and despite sounding insensitive in the wake of Donna Munson's tragedy, I feel all the more strongly that without the grizzly and the wolf outdoors we are missing something essential."
Life, he says, becomes more meaningful the closer the proximity of death.
"What could possibly make us more human than to live in a world where it is still possible to be eaten?" Cagin asks, while confiding an element of excitement when walking home in Telluride after dark with the possibility of stumbling across a black bear.
"It's bracing to know that there's something bigger and stronger than us out there."
He concludes: "May there always be sharks in the sea and tigers in India, and may the grizzlies and wolves soon find their way home to the San Juans, where they belong. For without them and the squeamishness they inspire, we are less fully human."