The Wall Street Journal's two-plus million print subscribers got a nice surprise on Monday: a front-page Journal article with the headline, "Near Lake Tahoe There's a Bear So Tough, Bullets Bounce Off His Head." As if that wasn't enticing enough, it runs with the deck, "'Bubba' Is Blamed for at Least 50 Home Invasions and His Crime Spree Isn't Over." Who is this bear's publicist and how can the Atlantic Wire hire him?
The Journal's Marie Baca travels to Incline Village, Nevada, to chronicle the hunt for "a 700-pound black bear dubbed Bubba," who has "broken into at least 50 homes in search of food the past year, causing more than $70,000 of damage" in the rural Lake Tahoe community. Baca pauses to peg Bubba's tale to a larger trend ("Bubba isn't the only bear on a tear. Across California and Nevada, last year's harsh winter forced bears across California and Nevada down from the mountains in search of food.") before moving on the really big news: Bubba is magical.
Some of Bubba's exploits and escapes are the stuff of legend. In one incident in mid-2009, a bear matching Bubba's description confronted a frightened homeowner, who told officials that he shot the bear between the eyes with a .44 Magnum. The bullet apparently bounced off the bear's skull, leaving him wounded but still alive.
The community's response, including 3 a.m. bear hunts, is as bizarre as it is entertaining, with Baca giving us such delightful details as, "The Bear League, a nonprofit bear-safety organization, says techniques like sounding air horns could be used instead of lethal ones." And there's a spiritual angle in all this:
Last Thanksgiving, Bubba broke into a Presbyterian church in Incline Village and devoured more than 20 jars of peanut butter that were to be given to the poor, among other things. Rev. Dick Randall, pastor of the Village Church, emailed the congregation and asked them to pray for the bear to be relocated, rather than killed.
"I just wanted to be Christian about it," says Rev. Randall.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.