This year, like last Autumn, two black bears were found walking around the hospital property.  This is rural South Carolina, so bears aren’t especially surprising.  Frankly, I always assume that bears on hospital property are 1) seeking narcotics or 2) trying to get disability.  Just seems likely from a statisitical standpoint!

Honey buns?  Sardines?  Seriously?

Honey buns? Sardines? Seriously?

Our hospital issued a very measured, reasonable memo about the bears.  I will here re-post the memo, with my own smart-aleck comments added in parentheses.  Because to be honest, any story involving black bears is almost as funny as a story involving monkeys.


A black bear was spotted behind the hospital last night, so state wildlife officials have placed a barrel trap in the woods on our property. The trap will not harm the bear, but will allow officials to relocate the bear if it takes the bait (honey buns and sardines). Please stay away from the trap for your own safety – and so that we have the best chance of catching the bear.

(Problem:  unemployed, young, male hospital visitors will invariably become trapped, after discovering a barrel stocked with honey-buns and sardines.  On the positive side, that will allow the DNR to relocate them to neighboring counties where they can find new, safer habitats like Meth labs and amateur wrestling arenas.  The bears, it turns out, have large barrels in the woods, stocked with Percocet and Methadone.)

If you see a bear, the correct course of action is simply to stay away from it. Do not attempt to approach, scare or harm a bear in any way. Firearms are not allowed on hospital premises, and anyone attempting to harm the bear would be violating numerous laws.

(Look, your average person with average intelligence has a deeply innate sense that anything over 200 pounds and totally covered in fur, with teeth protruding from its cute mouth, is a thing best left alone.  Anyone lacking this understanding might best be employed as bait in the barrel trap, or as the subject of an educational video filmed secretly, while they approach and poke, prod or humiliate the bear; or worse, describe their chronic illnesses to it.)

If you do see a bear on hospital property, contact Security immediately. In the unlikely circumstance that you find yourself on foot (as opposed to hovering or riding a bicycle?) near a bear, back away slowly while keeping your eyes on the bear until you can enter the building or your car. According to DNR, “No one has been injured by a black bear in SC in recorded history. Simply observing a bear walking through a yard is not cause for alarm.” If you are especially worried about encountering a bear, you may want to ask a co-worker to walk to your car with you.

(I understand.  I know the security guys.  They’re all smart enough not to attempt to handcuff the bear, or spray it with their human-strength pepper-spray.  They’ll do the right thing and call the DNR.  As for whether a bear has ever hurt anyone in SC’s history, I might add, ‘that anyone has ever found.’  If a bear eats you in Sumter National Forest you might just not ever be found.  Still, I’m sure they aren’t nefarious creatures.  After all, modern man is well educated in the modern idea that nothing in nature is dangerous except man, who really isn’t part of nature anyway, right?  Besides, any bear eating a person now will have to deal with the aftertaste of Ritalin, oral Morphine, Amphetamines and cheap beer.   As for the suggestion to ‘ask a coworker to walk to your car with you,’ remember, you don’t have to run faster than the bear, only faster than your coworker.  Message?  Take a slow, out of shape coworker you’d like to see replaced.)

If you would like to learn more about black bears, visit the Web site of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at

(Or grab the nearest bear, wrestle it to the ground and tickle it fiercely.  You’ll learn some stuff.)

Let me know if you have any questions.



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