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Bears

Bears And Humans

All bears except polar bears are regarded as therapeutic in traditional medicine in Asia. In particular, fluid from the gall bladder is thought to have many health-enhancing qualities. Many Asiatic black bears are kept in captivity, where they have tubes implanted into their gall bladder from which bile fluid is continuously withdrawn without killing the animal. It is also thought that an aphrodisiac, or love potion, can be made from the gall bladders of bears. The flesh of bear paws is regarded as a gourmet food in eastern Asia. Because of these uses, the Asiatic black bear has long been intensively hunted, and is now an endangered species. Many American black bears and Eurasian brown bears are also killed so that their gall bladder can be harvested and exported to eastern Asia.

Even the extremely rare spectacled bear of South America is hunted by indigenous people, who believe their fat is useful in the treatment of arthritis.

In addition to the problem of excessive hunting, all bears are being affected by habitat destruction, mostly to develop agricultural land. When humans move into natural habitat, bears are often the first animals to be eliminated. All species of bears have declining populations, and some are endangered. If their populations are not better conserved, it is possible that some species of bears will become extinct.

See also Pandas.


Resources

Books

Bailey, Jill. Polar Bear Rescue. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers, 1991.

Bauer, E.A., and P. Bauer. Bears: Biology, Ecology, and Conservation. Voyageur Press, 1997.

Bears. Zoobooks Series. San Diego, CA: Wildlife Education, 1982.

Brown, Gary. The Great Bear Almanac. New York: Lyons & Burford, 1993.

Bruemmer, Fred. World of the Polar Bear. Minocqua, WI: NorthWord Press, 1989.

Caras, Roger A. North American Mammals: Fur-Bearing Animals of the United States and Canada. New York: Meredith Press, 1967.

Domico, Terry. Bears of the World. New York: Facts on File, 1988.

Elman, Robert. Bears. Stamford, CT: Longmeadow Press, 1992.

Hunt, Joni P. Bears. San Luis Obispo, CA: Blake Publishing, 1993.

Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Mammals of the World. 5th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

O'Toole, Christopher, and John Stidworthy. Mammals: The Hunters. New York: Facts on File, 1988.

Polar Bears. Zoobooks Series. San Diego, CA: Wildlife Education, 1991.

Stirling, Ian. Bears: Majestic Creatures of the Wild. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1993.

Van Wormer, Joe. The World of the Black Bear. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1966.

Ward, P., and S. Kynaston. Bears of the World. Blandford Press, 1997.

Wison, Don E., and Sue Ruff, eds. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1999.


Jean F. Blashfield

KEY TERMS

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Carnassial teeth

—Specialized teeth of mammals in the order Carnivora, which are longer and sharper than other teeth and useful in tearing meat.

Plantigrade

—Walking on the heel and sole of the foot instead of on the toes.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Ballistic galvanometer to Big–bang theoryBears - Grizzly And Other Brown Bears, Polar Bear, American Black Bear, Other Black-colored Bears