Somehow Unsettling

Swiss FlagA moment of silence, please, and not specifically for the bear in question though I don’t object. But there is something perhaps more important than one bear going on here. Agence France-Presse explains, though I can’t quite put my finger on it:

Look, mountains!Switzerland’s only recorded wild bear has been culled after fears that it could pose a threat to humans, the authorities announced on Wednesday.

The male bear, known as “M13”, was shot dead by wildlife rangers on Tuesday, said Adrian Aeschlimann, spokesman for the Federal Office for the Environment.

“The cull was carried out according to the management plan for bears in Switzerland,” he told AFP.

M13 lived in the mountainous Graubuenden region of eastern Switzerland, on the border with Italy, spending spring seasons in the Val Poschiavo.

Discovery News (detail)Look, I realize that Switzerland is all of 16,000 square miles, and no, I don’t really care what that equals if you flatten out the mountains. You have one bear in a country.

Oh, wait. No, you don’t.

There is something abstract about the “20 Animals You Could Eat But Probably Won’t” link in the middle of the story, to be certain, but pay it no mind; it is a distraction.

Let us get this straight: They have had one bear. Or, to be exact, they had one bear.


And they killed him because he was too friendly.

In the Pacific northwest, we do some crazy things, too. Like, you know, build a bunch of houses right where some other animals live, and then shoot the animals for living there. Because, you know … humans.

But this was one bear. The only one in the country. Surely that must count for something, right?

This is a moment when a certain kind of dystopian fiction became, without any consideration for the feelings of others, perversely real. It is not that the Swiss are some horrible people for this, but you grow up in the U.S. with the occasional story about the last tree, or the last tiger, or the last whatever. It is supposed to be a grim fable. “A bear? We had one, once, but we shot it.”

Certes, one understands, though. You do what you have to do and the only thing the Swiss could think of was shooting the bear. Because, you know … humans

Who's next?Environmental campaigners WWF hit out at the decision to shoot M13.

They said it was natural for a bear that woke up from hibernation to head into the valley to look for food, and that it would have returned to the mountains as the weather improved.

In addition, with increasing maturity, M13 would have been likely to return to Italy to look for a mate, they said.


Well, that’s alright, then.

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