Scare Bears: The Rising Tide of Human-Bear Violence

While shark attacks get nationwide, or even worldwide news coverage, our ursine friends are marginalized by what I like to call the “soft bear-gotry of low expectations.” It’s time for that to change.

Just in the past week:

  • Wisconsin bow-hunter suffers treetop mauling

    Schultz says he met the bears while bow hunting a few miles outside Tony, Wisconsin. He says he began hearing noises, then saw four bears under his tree stand. One of them, a cub, began to climb up towards him and the mother followed.

    “That’s when I started getting nervous. She got about to where my feet were and after that it was all big commotion I’m not sure exactly what happened in what order but I tried to fight her off with my bow and I tried to kick her, then she really started grabbing me, trying to pull me out of tree stand.”

    Schultz says his stand safety belt kept him from falling 14 feet to the ground. But it didn’t help him stop the clawing, biting bears.

    “I’ve got puncture wounds in my leg, but my arm right here is the worst. There’s a big kind of a hole and I can feel all the stuff inside, but wasn’t even able to see it back then.”

  • Grizzly mauls Montana bird hunter
  • Boy scout escapes bear attack by playing dead

    The commission has been trapping and relocating bears out of the park when possible, but the bear population in Pennsylvania has been on the rise. It is estimated to be about 15,000, the highest in 150 years.

    A black bear has never killed anyone in Pennsylvania.

  • Hunter killed in bear attack on Swedish-Norwegian border, other hunters exact revenge
  • Bear attacks 71-year old man in his own garage

    “The bear slashed through the back of his jacket,” she said, noting that it was a particularly heavy jacket that likely prevented the bear’s claws from doing greater damage. The bear latched its jaws on Clark’s arm at one point, and “he actually punched the bear.”

And bears aren’t always the instigators: Three Marsican bears, a subspecies with only 30-50 remaining in the world, were poisoned and found dead in the mountains of central Italy.

“One death could have been by natural causes, but with three dead bears in the same area at roughly the same time it’s clear that there has been foul play,” forestry official Luciano Sammarone said.

You may have read about our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, but in addition to gross neglect and the grim prospect of terrorism, bridges also now have BEARS to contend with. Is This Bear a Terrorist?

bridge bear

All attempts at humor aside, such interspecies violence is what happens when we encroach too far into vulnerable habitats in our demand for more housing, food, resources, or recreation. It’s not just bears. Human-elephant conflict in Africa is actually a very serious topic of academic research.

Finally, even when bears prove fertile subjects for interstate cooperation, the law of unintended consequences can still reign. A U.S.-Russia conservation agreement on polar bears whose ranges are shared between the two countries (“shared bears”), may actually force Russia to reintroduce hunting of the bears. Polar bears, of course, rightfully receive much more press than their sub-polar brethren (bear-thren?), both for their pending endangered status and association with global warming.

Indeed, if melting Arctic Sea ice drives the polar bear to extinction, do we not all deserve maulings for our inaction?

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~ by danopticon on October 17, 2007.

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