Fence provides volt of confidence to deter bears

What are the chances of setting up temporary electric fencing in town during summer and fall? With bear droppings every few feet along the Animas River Trail, it seems like the bear population is healthy enough that we could make them feel a little more unwelcome. Many Canadian websites suggest temporary electric fencing for gardens. But talk to wildlife officials about this, they seem to go all defeatist, saying they won’t work. Do they really mean the bears are smarter than we are? I guess the Canadian bears are dumber. Or....? – Yogi and Boo Boo

These are some loaded questions. So, yes, Action Line is loaded for bear.

First, the notion of American bruins being smarter than their Canadian counterparts. It’s an intriguing concept that appeals to nationalism and xenophobia, both of which manage to ooze forth from the national psyche during presidential election years.

But the only way we can determine if American animals are smarter than the average bear is through standardized testing, something along the lines of “No Bear Left Behind.”

If a bear population were identified as underperforming and at-risk, the government would cut funding for the forest and blame the game wardens’ union, which would then go on strike to show how much it cares for creatures.

Perhaps “No Bear Left Behind” could be championed by J. Paul Brown, a former school board member whose ursine interests include matters of dubious wildlife legislation.

Be that as it may, the installation of electric fences is a highly charged issue.

In the city limits, electric fences are verboten by the city code. However, townies who want one can petition the city engineer. In the county, you can do pretty much whatever.

And contrary to your assumptions, wildlife officials aren’t opposed to electric fences. In fact, they say they can be “quite effective,” according to Joe Lewandowski, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The shock is a strong deterrent and beekeepers frequently rely on electrified fences.”

But electrified bear-proofing isn’t fool-proof. “Electric fences short out easily,” Joe said. “And think of what would happen if a dog or your kids bump against it.”

Joe knows firsthand, recounting when he was a young lad hunting pheasants with his dad and brothers.

“The barrel of my BB gun touched the fence, and I got knocked on my butt.”

But wait. What was a wildlife department official-to-be doing with a BB gun while pursuing upland game?

“I was only 8,” Joe said with a laugh. “No way I could handle a shotgun. I just wanted to tag along.”

I travel 32nd Street daily, and the section between Main Avenue and the railroad tracks is one of the worst sections of paved road in town, a patchwork of ruts, bumps, pot holes (filled and unfilled) and railroad track gaps. It’s been that way for years. When will this get some attention? – Ron Cornelius

Several jarred readers asked a similar question this week, including our friend Ed Lehner, who has a splendid notion:

“Maybe if the USA Pro Cycling Challenge comes back to Durango, the first part of the route through the city could include 32nd Street and the city would actually repair it,” he suggests.

But we won’t have to wait for a cycling event. The section of road will be reconstructed in October, said Levi Lloyd, the city’s streets superintendent.

Work is currently being done on two water lines under the street. After that’s completed, crews will tear out the asphalt and repave.

“It will disrupt traffic for a week or two, but it’s going to be really nice,” Levi said.

Yes, it will be nice.

But one huge traffic problem will remain. When will people ever figure out that turning left onto 32nd Street from the City Market parking lot during rush hour is completely impossible?

Perhaps the city can install a flashing yellow arrow or roundabout since these seem to be the standard response to any transportation conundrum.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you can explain by Oktoberfest is celebrated in September.