Don’t think zebra: drivers mistake dog for bear

Police near Wichita, Kansas, were on the prowl for a black bear, seen eating a deer in the median of a highway.

Numerous calls led police on the chase where they were eventually greeted by the massive beast – who gave them kisses and wanted to play fetch.

Yes, the big black bear sighted by many drivers turned out to be a large dog who had escaped his fenced yard. Deputies told Eyewitness News that they took the call seriously. The irony that it was Eyewitness News who reported this story was not lost on us.

However, it does highlight something important: eyewitnesses aren’t always the most reliable sources. We’ve heard tales of coyotes who stood as tall as Great Danes, ran as fast as cheetahs and had the body mass of an elephant. The fact is, when confused, frightened or even seeing something from the corner of your eye, memory can fill in the blanks.

This is why we promote accurate, fact-based reporting – both in the media and amongst ourselves. The drivers in Kansas saw a black animal on the highway, but they reported seeing a bear.

It’s an important lesson – and a hard one: if you hear hoof beats, don’t think zebra. Don’t even think horse. Just think hoof beats.

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