Myth: When bears lose their fear of people, they become more likely to attack
Untrue. Bear researchers across America have found that such bears are no more likely to attack, and may be less likely to attack, than other bears. Here is a summary of the evidence, starting here near Ely.
- In nearby Eagles Nest Township, MN, residents have fed wild black bears for over 40 years. Dozens of bears have lost their fear of people over the years. No one was attacked. A story about one of those bears is posted here in the Bear Center in “Bears in the News.” See “Ed Orazem: the man who feeds bears” in the Ely Echo, August 26, 1985.
Bears are part of human culture. Perhaps no other group of animals has excited the human imagination in so many ways. Although none of the popular images of bears reflect their true nature, they are referenced in mythology, folk songs, and children's stories. Bear cartoons, stories, and paraphernalia have mushroomed in the last century.
Ruth LaBarge has owned and trained bears for the entertainment industry for over thirty years. She has the largest selection of working Kodiak bears and black bears in North America. They are seen in many feature films, TV programs, and commercials. Her animal actors also appear in TV nature programs like Wild America, Nature, and National Geographic's "Grizzly."
The video demonstrates the trained behaviors of 5 of her bears. Some of the bears were trained for years to perform specific behaviors for upcoming movie scripts. One such behavior is opening the mouth to look ferocious. That behavior has been used for many movies, book covers, and magazine covers.
(see video below)
Over the past few weeks, several well-meaning readers sent me an e-mail with a story and photos, supposedly of a new world record grizzly bear killed in Alaska.
According to the internet story, a forest-service worker was deer hunting when a huge bear charged him from 10 yards away. The man emptied his semi-automatic 7mm magnum rifle into the bear, killing it in the nick of time. It dropped dead just a few feet from him.