Regarding Matthew Dyer, the Sierra Club hiker attacked while in his tent at 1:30 a.m. July 24 in eastern Canada’s Torngat Mountains when an electric fence failed to stop a polar bear:

CBC News reported July 27, “Parks Canada advises visitors of the park to hire an armed Inuit polar bear guard … . Dyer’s group did not hire a bear guard.”

Armed Inuit guards — an excellent idea, by the way — were quite likely not hired because the Sierra Club seeks non-lethal means of protection in a bear attack, most notably by advocating pepper spray for bear attacks.

Although the electric fence and pepper spray are steps in the right direction in trying to co-exist peacefully with bears, they’re not enough to stop a charging bear, particularly in the wee hours, when bears tend to attack people in tents. (Japanese wildlife photographer Michio Hoshino experienced a worse fate than Dyer in Kamchatka, Russia, on Aug. 8, 1996, when a bear attacked him in his tent at 4:30 a.m., dragged him out of it and killed him.)

In September 1996, my friend Keith Benner and I were attacked by a brown bear in Alaska as pepper spray allowed a face-to-face encounter, risking mauling and death after the bear knocked me to the ground with a side-arm swipe to my chest.

A .454-caliber Casull or .338-caliber rifle (I’ve since learned) could have stopped the bear in its charge instead of leaving our fate up to the bear. (Our experience is described in the article “A Can of Spray, A Lot of Luck,” in the Sept. 29, 1996, edition of the Anchorage Daily News.)

The Inuits must be shaking their heads.

Chris Deile
Anchorage, Alaska

Golf competition finishers lauded for love of the game

Congratulations to Emily Bouchard (235), the 2013 winner of the Maine Women’s Amateur golf tournament (“Maine Women’s Amateur: Another title in the bag for Bouchard,” Aug. 1). Winners always deserve to be congratulated.

Those who finish last get few accolades. With this in mind, I recognize Marilyn Hughes (334), Linda Morin-Pasco (335), Janet Anderson (336) and Trudy Snediker (339), who hung in to play all three days of the tournament and finished a cumulative 404 strokes behind the winner.

I don’t know any of these women, but I guess that none of them entered the tournament with any thought of winning. Each finished more than 98 strokes back.

I congratulate them for doing something none of my fellow male golfers would ever do under similar circumstances. None would think of entering a state tournament on a course where they would not be competitive, let alone facing the prospect of finishing last.

Please do not think my admiration for these women is in any way condescending. I hope they had a great time and share pleasant memories of competing. Perhaps the play to establish the order of the last four places was exciting and a lot of fun.

In any case, their experience probably says more about golf than any perceived differences in the attitude of women and men who play the game.

The game itself is the challenge, and small victories against the defenses of the course can be reward enough for the amateur to suffer the far more frequent defeats and keep coming back for more.

So, Marilyn, Linda, Janet and Trudy, congratulations, keep coming back. I await next year’s tournament to see where you place among the finishers.

Tom Foley
Cumberland

What’s really motivating Mideast peace talk plans?

Your front-page story July 29 about the resumption of peace talks on Israel/Palestine (“Deal to free Palestinian captives sets up Mideast peace talks“) raised a question in my mind: the structure of the incentive package for the supposed Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas. See if this question doesn’t bug you, too. 

There has to be a lot of incentive coming his way. Israel uses such talks to expand settlements in occupied territories so the two-state solution dwindles in likelihood while consistently refusing equal rights to the Palestinian majority under its jurisdiction. 

So what’s Abbas’ motivation if not financial and coming from Israel? They’re hiring him to give them nine more months (the announced term of the talks) to build settlements, but how is that arrangement structured? 

If they put the money in his hands now, he might clutch at his tattered dignity and revolt, and anyway, if this money were discovered in a bank somewhere, the world wouldn’t allow this charade to continue. 

But if the money remains in Israel’s hands, what’s Abbas’ guarantee he’ll get paid? Maybe brave England will hold the escrow funds for the period this issue is in doubt — maybe years.

Let me propose another solution in this game where Israel holds all the trumps. Let it pull together the people it thinks represents Palestinian opinion and sit them down with its own opinion leaders and have a talk. It would probably find the Palestinian voices in its jails. A couple might have to be coaxed back from elsewhere (though the dead cannot be resurrected).

And let those talks be in public. Let Israel satisfy itself that a good talk took place. The world will go along. Such things speak for themselves. See if that isn’t the way out of this mess.

Christopher Rushlau
Portland

Nemitz’s biases showing in column about pro-lifers

It’s too bad that Bill Nemitz’s view of human motives is tainted by his own prejudices (“A Christian does not need therapy,’” Aug. 2). 

The pro-lifers who protest do so for a concern for unborn life and not out of guilt. 

David Ryder
Portland

Bottom line in deciding hospital’s fate is people

We should all be less concerned with the “sustaining” of St. Andrews Hospital by a large company than with the “sustaining” of the people (“Boothbay region ‘full of fear’ as hospital closing looms,” July 28). 

I must assume that the businesspersons in this situation look at the bottom line rather than at the people whose health is endangered by such a closure. No matter what very efficient ambulance service might be invented, the older population and the many seasonal guests are going to be further from help. 

The Hippocratic Oath requires dedicated medical people to “do no harm.” 

Maybe some larger hospitals in the system will have to help to maintain the others! Isn’t that the way we do things in a society? 

Dave Shaub
former resident of Boothbay Harbor
Union