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Bear Attacks

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  1. Introduction
  2. The image of bears as 'Man eaters'
  3. North American bears
    1. Grizzly bears
    2. Black bears
  4. Polar bears
  5. Discussion
  6. References

Bears are one of the most widely distributed animals in the world. At least one of the eight bear species currently exists in Asia, Europe, North and South America, and the Arctic. Bears in Africa became extinct several million years ago. Australia and Antarctica are the only continents where bears have never existed. The koala bear of Australia is a marsupial and not a true bear.
Bears also occupy a wide variety of habitats, including tropical forests, polar ice sheets, swamps, barren ground tundra, bamboo jungles, alpine meadows, and coniferous and deciduous forests. Their range extends from sea level up to about 6100 m (20,000 feet).

[...] This term contributes to the emotional response regarding such attacks and leads to "bearanoia" in many people who visit bear country. This fear of bears may affect how people use wilderness areas with bear populations and how they view the conservation of bears and their habitat. Better understanding of bears and their behavior helps reduce bear attacks, assists physicians in treating bear attack victims, and promotes conservation of bears. NORTH AMERICAN BEARS Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) are larger and more heavily built than most other ursids, with adults weighing 146 to 383 kg (325 to 850 pounds). [...]

[...] Since about 1900, when reasonably accurate records were first kept predatory attacks on humans by grizzly bears generally have been rare, sporadic, and isolated events.* However, a disturbing trend has begun in recent times. Between 1967 and deaths were inflicted by grizzly bears in Banff, Glacier, and Yellowstone National Parks. In each case the bear was conditioned to human foods (regularly seeking out and obtaining it) and/or habituated to human presence (not readily fleeing). Nine of the victims were partially consumed, and eight deaths were classified as predatory events. [...]

[...] For national parks the incidence of bear attacks increases during the peak tourist season, July and August. For surrounding national forests another peak occurs during hunting season, September to November. With more people seeking recreation in bear country, greater opportunity exists for human-bear encounters. Native peoples and grizzly bears occupied the same land for thousands of years in North America in what was probably a neutral coexistence, since neither had a profound influence on the other. However, the European expansion into the west after Lewis and Clark's expedition in the early 1800s tipped the scales heavily in favor of humans, both in sheer numbers and in technology, such as guns, traps, and poisons. [...]

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