Crazy Like a Fox

I finally got a picture of a fox not far from our property—but not close enough to get a good image. That said, it led me to do a little reading on the web about foxes. The most interesting item is the idea foxes might be able to locate prey under deep snow by using some kind of magnetic sense involving a protein in the retina called a cryptochrome. I’m not sure if this has been conclusively proven yet, but some scientists have said that this explains why foxes are able to find mice hiding in deep snowdrifts. They use a comical nose dive leap to catch them. It looks crazy, but it might increase their hunting success rate. Maybe that’s the origin of the expression “crazy like a fox”. Other animals, including bears, might be able to use this magnetic sense. Let’s hope not.

Bears don’t have a comical leap when they hunt. They’re anything but comical when they’re surprised. A land surveyor in Alaska surprised a brown bear recently and got badly mauled. The Associated Press news item title was “10 Seconds of Terror: Alaska man survives bear mauling.”

It’s a harrowing story although the man’s telling of it is almost eerily non-dramatic. He’s pretty matter-of-fact about the whole thing. It turns out he’s lived in Alaska for 40 years. He personally knows five other people who’ve been mauled by bears in Alaska. He even sounds like it would have been all the same to him if he’d been killed rather than injured. He didn’t sound like he was depressed or even unhappy, just calmly matter-of-fact.

That’s exactly how several Alaskans talk about what sounds like an absolute traffic jam of UFOs in the skies over the state. I guess I should call them Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) now that we have a government task force (The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence) assigned to investigating them. It sounds a little crazy. I sometimes wonder if this might be an attempt to draw attention away from other things happening in the country that’s getting a lot of press. That might be crazy like a fox.

I’ve watched the show Aliens in Alaska a few times. Ordinary, everyday Alaskans tell their stories about the UAP they’ve witnessed. They all describe them in the same way the guy talked about getting mauled by a bear, even the ones who say they’d been abducted by aliens. One guy was pretty frank about his UAP story, and even joked that maybe he was putting himself at risk for getting hustled off to the Alaskan Psychiatric Institute (API). Most of the time, when people are telling these stories on other TV shows, they always seem to be a little hysterical, which makes them a little less convincing. But the way Alaskans tell their stories, it’s like hearing how they got mauled by a bear, no big deal (“…oh, and did I ever tell you how I won 10 straight games of cribbage, all with at least one perfect 29 score?”).

Come to think of it (for no particular reason), I’ve never heard of any episodes of bear mutilations. There are plenty of stories about cattle mutilations, which are often attributed to aliens. How come bears don’t get the same treatment? Maybe because they’d fight back. Getting back to that mauled land surveyor, when I was a land surveyor’s assistant back in the day in Iowa, the only trouble I had with animals was with pesky cows trying to tip our tripods over out in the fields—probably as revenge for cow-tipping. I didn’t tip cows. They never put the salad fork in the right place (rim shot).

Anyway, I saw a commercial recently made by Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, talking up Alaska as a major tourism destination, also touting the state as having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country for COVID-19, although that has been fact-checked. According to the commercial, among the many exhilarating experiences you can have in Alaska is to see the bears.

He didn’t mention the aliens (which I’d rather see than bears), even though it could be one of the biggest draws to the place given the soaring interest in UAP. Crazy like a fox.

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