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What’s It Cost to Kill a Bear?

An article from the Cox News Service that was published in the State, the daily newspaper of Columbia, S.C., tells the story of a family camping trip gone wrong. You should read the article here. For those who don’t feel like clicking through, I’ll summarize:

1. A suburban Atlanta man named Chris Everhart, a former Marine who now works as a technician for AT&T, took his three sons on their first camping trip.

2. As the four Everharts were roasting marshmallows, a bear started sniffing around their food cooler. The youngest boy, 6-year-old Logan, picked up a shovel and went after the bear.

3. The bear abandoned the cooler and, growling, started coming toward Logan.

4. Logan’s dad grabbed a piece of firewood and threw it at the bear. The bear fell over. The Everharts ran and got into their truck. But the bear didn’t move. The bear was dead.

5. Campground officials came to investigate. (They were already in the area responding to a drunken man who’d tried to run down a bear with his car.)

6. And, finally: “Everhart was later issued a $75 ticket by the U.S. Forest Service for failing to store his food properly ‘to prevent access by wildlife.'”

I am guessing that the $75 ticket is, in most cases, a good incentive to get campers to properly stow their food. And I am guessing that Everhart was truly guilty of said infraction. But if you were the officer in charge of determining whether this man who fought off a bear to save his sons should get the $75 ticket, don’t you think you might have considered waiving the fee, just this once?

A little discretionary leeway, please?