Where's the outrage for Glenda?

By Henry Lamb
web posted May 29, 2000

Glenda Ann Bradley is dead. She was minding her own business on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, waiting for her friend, Ralph, to try a few more casts into a different fishing spot. Had her killer been a drug-crazed teen with a gun, her death would have triggered another barrage of gun-control propaganda from the White House. Election-minded politicians would be parading to the podium to press for stronger gun laws, for registration of all guns - to put an end to this senseless killing.

But it was not a drug-crazed teen that killed Glenda Ann.

Pat Taylor grew up with Glenda Ann. They went to church together as children. Glenda Ann went off to college and came back to teach at Jones Cove Elementary School in the mountains of East Tennessee. She was the kind of person everyone loved. Sometimes when Pat couldn't make it on time, Glenda Ann would take Pat's daughter home with her after school. Glenda Ann's death was a shock to Pat - and a loss to the entire community.

Glenda Ann didn't need killing. She had wronged no one. She was minding her own business, enjoying a Sunday afternoon in the Smoky Mountains National Park, the most-visited National Park in the country.

Ralph left Glenda Ann alone about two-o'clock to try one more spot. He was gone about an hour. When he returned to the spot where he had left Glenda Ann, all he saw was her trail pack. He called to her. No answer. He looked in the woods beside the trail. About 40 yards away, near where the Little River and Goshen Prong trails come together, Ralph saw a black bear and a yearling cub, toying with what was left of Glenda Ann.

Ralph shouted and threw rocks at the bears, but they would not retreat.

Another fisherman heard the commotion, saw what had happened and struck out hiking to the Elkmont Campground to find a Park Ranger. Ralph's cries for help attracted about a dozen campers and hikers, all of whom tried to drive the bears away from Glenda Ann's body. The bears were not frightened, nor were they about to leave their dinner.

For nearly three hours, Ralph, and the group of hikers and campers, watched in horror as the bears tore away the flesh from the 50-year old school teacher's body

The Park Rangers showed up at 6:05 and shot the two bears.

When a six-year old boy from a broken and drug-infested home shot another six-year old, the media and the White House went into overdrive, exploiting every opportunity to denounce guns and call for more gun control.

Where is the outrage for Glenda Ann's needless death? Where is the media?. Where are Bill and Al? Where are the demands to outlaw bears in National Parks?

More likely, the fatal mauling of Glenda Ann will be used as an excuse to further restrict human use of National Parks. Michael Pelton, who led a black-bear research project for the University of Tennessee, said "It sounds like a predatory response on the part of the animal. I have to think the bear had an instinctive reaction when the person started running or somehow responding as prey."

Nancy Gray, a spokeswoman for the park, says "We normally tell visitors to be dominant and wave things and yell when they encounter a black bear, because the bear usually will run off." The bear, which had been tagged in 1998, did not run off. Another bear-mauling occurred in 1989 in the park, but that victim didn't die.

Nor did any of the other 17 victims of bear incidents recorded that year.

According to Kim DeLozier, park wildlife biologist, there have been 37 recorded black-bear fatalities in the United States. One of them occurred in Yellowstone National Park.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the first National Parks to be designated as a U.N. Biosphere Reserve in 1976. Since that designation, management of the park, and all of the other 47 U.N.

Biosphere Reserves, including Yellowstone National Park, has undergone a transition of purpose. No longer are the parks managed for the benefit and enjoyment of people, but for "conservation objectives."

Park officials began monitoring black bears nearly 30 years ago, at which time they estimated the bear population to be 300 to 500 animals.

Today, there are about 1,800 bears in the park. New studies reveal the grizzly bears, too, are experiencing a population explosion in and around Yellowstone National Park. Estimates in 1985 put the number of bears in the Yellowstone area at 44. This is the estimate that landed the critter on the endangered species list, which the Sierra Club still says requires the impoundment of 14 million acres around the park as a buffer zone for bear recovery. Actual DNA analyses of bear hair has now confirmed the number of grizzly bears in the area to be more than ten times the reported estimates.

Philip Francis, Acting Superintendent of the Smoky Mountains National Park, said that Glenda Ann's death won't affect the park's bear management policy. Where is the outrage?

Had the gun-control laws allowed Glenda Ann to pack a .357, she would probably be in jail today, for killing the bear. But she would be alive.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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