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. [...]
[...] In one case the bear broke into a camper and pulled the victim out, and in another case the bear entered a wooden teepee ("wickiup") and dragged the victim out by her foot. In most attacks, the black bears were driven away by aggressive actions by the victims and their companions, such as yelling and throwing objects. Polar Bears Polar bears are distributed in a circumpolar fashion around the Arctic Circle and subsist almost exclusively on a diet of seals. [...]
[...] Grizzly bear attacks sometimes occur near a carcass on which the bear has been feeding. Grizzly bears may be more aggressive under these circumstances in defense of the carcass. Grizzly bears of all ages and either gender, however, may readily exit when they sense people approaching. When grizzly bears injure someone near a carcass, the precipitating event may simply be a close encounter with a preoccupied bear. Another class of attacks results from provocation, most often when a grizzly bear is shot. [...]
[...] Caution must be used when compiling and analyzing such "data." Recommendations for avoiding bear attacks have been drawn primarily from what attack victims did "wrong." Because most people who live, work, and regularly vacation in bear country are never injured, it is equally important to understand what they have done "right." Unlike bear attack victims, these people have successfully navigated grizzly country without being injured. Although this information is not as readily available as attack records, it is critical to our knowledge of grizzly-human interactions. [...]
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