ASHEVILLE- The next time you decide to blaze up, you better think twice.
No the Drug Enforcement Agency probably won’t kick your door down, but you may get a visit from a fire prevention black bear.
Western North Carolina has recorded 275 bear nuisance complaints so far this year.
But Smokey the Bear explains you shouldn’t think of his bear fire prevention team as a nuisance, rather friends asking you to party responsibly.
“We just want to make sure everybody handles their joints safely and a way that prevents house fires,” said Smokey the Bear.
“Some people lay the joints down and forget about them and the next thing you know the house is a blaze figuratively and literally. Some people lose their lighter and light the joint with the oven burner and forget to shut off the burner. So our message is clear if you light one up, puff, puff, until it’s gone. Remember, only you can prevent joint fires.”
Smokey the Bear has assigned 100 bear joint officers to the Asheville area. The Joint Safety Initiative is a sign Smokey the Bear is adapting to changes in American lifestyles.
“Although we find forest fire prevention is still important, there is an overwhelming trend of people staying inside and thus less camp fires to worry about,” said Smokey the Bear.
“Now we need to make sure those starting fires in blunt wraps, playing video games in their basement are also practicing fire prevention techniques. To assign bear joint officers to Asheville is a no brainer, y’all smoke a lot of weed.”
But some residents believe the bear joint officers are doing more harm than good.
For example, Rebecca Kossick a Biltmore Lake resident is annoyed that the bears constantly try to dig through her trash.
Smokey the Bear explains digging through the trash is part of the reconnaissance work the bear joint officers do to prevent joint fires.
“Digging through people’s trash gives us a lot of hints as to whether someone is at risk for a joint fire,” said Smokey the Bear.
“If someone has a lot of Cheetos or Hostess wrappers, it is a good sign someone may be at risk. Also receipts from Taco Bell with random purchase times throughout the day is another good sign.”
Smokey the Bear’s Joint Safety Initiative is in its second year of existence. Smokey the Bear is aware of people’s complaints and is working to address them, but the program has steadily improved over time.
In 2011 Western North Carolina filed 430 bear nuisance complaints. So far this year there have been 155 fewer complaints.
“We are certainly less abrasive than McGruff the Crime Dog. We don’t want to make what you do in your free time a crime, we just want to make sure you do it safely. Hell we’re willing to smoke one with you. Just be prepared to put the joint directly in our mouth because our paws tend to smash them. Oh and please don’t pass us the Pringles, trying to get our paw in there is embarrassing.”
If you are interested in learning how to light a joint safely from a bear joint officer, you can contact them here. Ask for Baloo.