Notice to Bears – Read For Your Lives!!!

Please read this message and share it with other bears....it could save bears' lives!!!
(updated April 21, 2005)

Let's start with a basic fact:  A human-habituated bear is a "likely to be killed" bear.

Here's another fact:  Only humans have the concept that "food is love."  This is more complicated than we need to go into here, but suffice it to say that human-provided food is NOT love to a bear.  Humans are also the only species with the concept of "garbage."  Thinking of it as such, they unintentionally leave edible food in places that are easy for you to access.  And even though we no longer want that food ourselves, we become frightened and threatened when you avail yourself of the opportunity we provided (humans feeling threatened = bears die).

We also tend to be less than meticulous, and often downright careless, in storing our food (including garbage) where we live and when we camp and backpack (careless = bears die).  When you,  understandably, avail yourself of the opportunity to eat, we become frightened and threatened.  With some campers and backpackers there's even an odd tendency, when they're home safe, to laugh and joke about the food they "lost" to a bear.  We like to think they wouldn't be laughing and joking if they understood, when they let you have their food, they are contributing to your demise.  Yet, countless efforts in countless ways to educate humans have largely fallen on deaf ears.  

So we figure we have a better chance of educating you bears about this topic, since you want to survive (survive = bears live).

Many humans are confused about their feelings toward you.

Some humans love you. Some respect you. Some are terrified of you. Some actually hate you. Some humans may possess all these feelings at once. Some of us try to explain to other humans that the healthiest thing for humans and bears is for humans to respect you and stay away from you.

Meanwhile, many humans do want to see you (you are quite attractive, we must admit).  They think your "antics" are "cute," "clownish" and "entertaining."

Frankly, you are entertaining (and always quite beautiful) when watched from a distance, without our manipulating your behavior with food. But some humans interpret your natural desire to approach food as meaning you are tame, which of course you are not (misinterpretation = bears die).

Regardless of signs, pleas, articles, ranger talks, warnings and citations, some of us are absolutely amazed that you can open a cooler, climb into a dumpster, operate mechanisms on food lockers that haven't been properly latched, enter a poorly secured building, or open vehicles and tents. We underestimate your power and intelligence (underestimate = bears die).

Bears and humans have much in common:  we both walk plantigrade, i.e., on the heels of our feet, we are both clever and we are both opportunistic. As would humans, once you find an easy source of food, you naturally continue to use that source.  The difference is, while humans are free to dine just about anywhere they like, when you bears dine on food provided by humans (including "garbage"), you are then labeled as "human food habituated" (human food habituated = bears die).

If you then continue to show up where there are humans, forage on cars for food, and take food left out or unsecured, you will be judged to be a threat to humans. Of course you might be, if a human is careless enough to closely approach you.  You may injure them in the process of protecting yourself and your food.  

Your foraging methods are perfect, and you should continue to use them.... except around humans and our belongings.  When you use these methods with humans, you will be killed by humans in order to protect other humans.

So spread the word Bears:   AVOID HUMANS (even though we too can be cute, clownish and entertaining) and avoid our food!

(avoiding humans = bears survive)

Copyright 1994-2003 by Georgia Stigall & Native Habitats; permission to redistribute is granted as long as document is used in its entirety & the copyright statement is included.  Redistribution of this document is encouraged for the purpose of helping both people and wildlife.

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