Tasers are pretty good at stopping humans from doing whatever they were doing before they got Tased. Unless of course that something is attempting to metabolize huge amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, PCP or suchlike. In which case the Taser won’t stop the eventual dead person from dying. Nor will the company that makes the Taser help the survivor’s lawyer score some liability bucks for the dead druggie’s estate. Now consider the fate of Alaskan animals who, as far as I know, can’t hire lawyers. “Spurred by the efforts of Fish and Game wildlife technician Larry Lewis of Soldotna,” adn.com reports. “The use of Tasers on large animals is beginning to gain currency among wildlife managers across the U.S. — and even overseas.” Wow! Overseas! That’s like, far away! Especially from Alaska, from whence this Taser tale (tail?) hails . . .
Six months ago, Lewis presented the idea of using Tasers on bears to a group of wildlife managers who deal with human-bear conflicts during a conference in Canmore, Alberta. Much to his surprise, no one scoffed.
“I didn’t get one negative comment,” he said. “Mainly what I heard was that if this saves an animal’s life, it’s a useful tool.”
Lewis needs to spend some more time around spinmeisters in the lower 48. He should have said “if this saves ONE animal’s life.” Anyway, I miss Northern Exposure. Does this excerpt read like a plot description to you from that series or what?
I had an epiphany while being chased by an angry moose,” Lewis joked.
The cow was upset that her two calves were trapped in an open four-foot deep basement foundation at a home-construction site. Neither noisemakers nor rubber ammo fired from a shotgun could convince her to leave so the calves could be retrieved.
Lewis tried lowering a ramp into the pit so the calves could walk out. But as he approached them, the cow charged, jumping into the foundation. Then it chased Lewis and the trooper three times around the patrol car.
Both men were armed. But rather than shooting the moose, Lewis said the trooper leaned across the hood of his patrol car and used his Taser. The weapon’s barbed, conductive leads hit the moose in the left front shoulder. Stunned and immobilized, the animal immediately fell. The leads pulled free as the moose hit the ground, and it soon ran off into the woods, allowing Lewis to rescue the calves from the basement and retreat to the patrol car.
That incident got Lewis wondering if Tasers might be used in similar circumstances with moose and, in other situations, with bears and other large animals.
“I thought, ‘Wow, I want one of those,’ ” he said. “And, if anything, I’m known for being very persistent.”
What the hell does THAT mean? And while we’re on the subject of hidden meanings, what of this piece of advice from technician Lewis?
“I would discourage someone from bringing a weapon into the woods if they’re not trained with the weapon,” he said. “Leave the weapon at home, and use something you can use in a stress situation.
“I just shudder when people buy a piece of equipment and all of a sudden think they don’t have to do anything proactive in bear country. It’s a false sense of security that gets people into trouble and leads them to make decisions they wouldn’t otherwise make.”
Lewis himself carries a firearm on patrol as well as when he walks his dog at home. His wife, on the other hand, carries bear spray because she’s more comfortable using that. Individuals’ feelings about the use of deadly force on an animal plays a huge role, too.
“If I were in a situation where I had to defend myself from a bear in close quarters, I would not reach for my Taser,” he said. “I’m going to reach for the Alamo. I would not advise anybody to use a Taser as a primary mode of bear defense.”
So now you know.