‘Black bear, black bear, what do you see?’
Tribune News Service
MINDEN – Four-year-old Dylan Paplia – “I’ll be 5 in two weeks!” – almost missed seeing the 250-pound black bear caged in the parking lot Tuesday at Minden Montessori.
“Wait!” he shouted, as state Wildlife Biologist Carl Lackey started to drive away with the 4-year-old bear due to be released in Incline Village.
Lackey stopped the truck and the bear van and hoisted the little boy up to see the bear which had already endured a peek from more than a dozen 4-6-year-olds.
“It’s cool,” Dylan said as the bear rattled the cage.
“I’m not afraid,” he said. “He was going to smell me. I’d like them to smell me instead of bite me.”
Lackey brought the bear which had only one prior offense for raiding garbage cans and being a nuisance before he was captured again Tuesday.
It’s not unusual for Lackey to stop by so the children can see wildlife up close and in a contained environment.
Lackey’s son Tristan, almost 2, was in the nap room at school and missed his dad’s visit.
Primary teacher Jamie Galarza’s class was very excited and curious about their unusual guest.
“If the bear was sedated, we would let them pet it,” Lackey said.
Some of the children opted out of the opportunity.
“What kind of dog is in there?” asked one little boy.
“It’s not a dog,” said his friend. “It’s a bear. I don’t want to see it.”
But Lackey travels with his dogs, too.
“They’re going to chase him when we let him go,” Lackey said. “They’re going to bite him in the butt.”
Before viewing the bear, there were a few anxious concerns.
“I don’t think he’s going to kill us,” pondered a little boy.
“If you’re lucky, he’ll get snot on you,” Lackey said.
Grant Bruce, 4, said he was impressed.
“Well, it was very cool. He was sniffing me. I was not scared,” he said.
Barrett Lee, 6, said she was a little scared.
“But he (the bear) was 4 years old, and I’m 6,” she reasoned.
Both agreed the bear smelled.
“He smelled bad,” Grant said.
“He smelled like slobber,” said Barrett.
The children had been studying bears and knew they were mammals.
“Just like me!” Barrett said.
When the bear was on its way to freedom in Incline Village, and Dylan was heading back to the nap room, he thought about what kind of pet a bear might make.
“I have kitties,” he said. “I don’t want a bear to eat them. I just want a little bear.”
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