Outdoor Recreation vs. Wildlife. Letter in San Jose Mercury-News, 3 Jun 02

We all pay the price for irresponsible risk-takers

I was pleased to note the responsible reporting by Elliott Almond; his article ``Dangers abound in tricky Cascades'' (Page 20A, May 31) was on target.

For 28 years we lived close to a number of wilderness areas around Seattle. Too often the press (and the associated sports industry) breathlessly lionize risk-taking behaviors like mountain climbing, motorcycles, snowboarding, skate boarding and high-risk skiing. But there are prices to pay.

Often many who take part in these activities have no health insurance. When injured, it is you and I who pay for them, and in some cases this involves life-long subsistence care. A number of my colleagues have reported spending an entire night in a hospital ER putting people back together who had no insurance. They were almost never paid.

Worst of all, other lives are put at risk. Most people have no idea how dangerous rescues are, especially if a helicopter is involved. Rescue workers are true heroes, but it is unreasonable to ask them to risk their lives so some irresponsible risk-takers can get an adrenaline rush.

It is time to require performance bonds on mountain climbers and those who take part in dangerous activities. At the very least they should prove that they have adequate health insurance.

Michael M. Rosenblatt, D.P.M.

San Jose