Bear - Relationship With Humans

Relationship With Humans

See also: Bear danger

Some species, such as the polar bear, American black bear, sloth bear and brown bear, are dangerous to humans, especially in areas where they have become used to people. All bears are physically powerful and are likely capable of fatally attacking a person, but they, for the most part, are shy, are easily frightened and will avoid humans. Injuries caused by bears are rare, but are often widely reported. The danger that bears pose is often vastly exaggerated, in part by the human imagination. However, when a mother feels her cubs are threatened, she will behave ferociously. It is recommended to give all bears a wide berth because they are behaviorally unpredictable.

Where bears raid crops or attack livestock, they may come into conflict with humans. These problems may be the work of only a few bears, however they create a climate of conflict as farmers and ranchers may perceive all losses as due to bears and advocate the preventive removal of all bears. Mitigation methods may be used to reduce bear damage to crops, and reduce local antipathy towards bears.

Laws have been passed in many areas of the world to protect bears from hunters' habitat destruction. Public perception of bears is often very positive, as people identify with bears due to their omnivorous diet, ability to stand on two legs, and symbolic importance, and there is widespread support for bear protection, at least in more affluent societies. In more rural and poorer regions attitudes may be more shaped by the dangers posed by bears and the economic costs that they incur to farmers and ranchers. Some populated areas with bear populations have also outlawed the feeding of bears, including allowing them access to garbage or other food waste. Bears in captivity have been trained to dance, box, or ride bicycles; however, this use of the animals became controversial in the late 20th century. Bears were kept for baiting in Europe at least since the 16th century.

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