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What good is a bear to society?

By L. Harding

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Abstract

Arising out of fieldwork in the Canadian Rockies, this paper analyzes the role of bears in the conservation culture of Canadian national parks. Why is the presence of this large predator tolerated and even celebrated by some? And why do others fear and even despise this animal, whom they see as a danger and a menace, and resent its continued preservation? Bears may act as a token charismatic species in conservation mythology; they may be anthropomorphized into a cuddly roadside attraction evoking childhood nostalgia; or they may play the part of wrathful Nature guarding against human incursion into the wilderness. Tourists in Banff National Park take great pains to see bears, while local hikers and campers expend almost equal energy avoiding an ursine encounter. This paper explores what human reactions to bears reveal about social attitudes toward the natural world, particularly in areas like the Canadian Rockies where human and bear territory overlap.

Publication Title Society & Animals
Volume 22
Issue 2
Pages 174-193
ISBN/ISSN 1063-1119
DOI 10.1163/15685306-12341262
Language English
Author Address University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.hardingl@interchange.ubc.ca
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Tags
  1. Animals
  2. APEC countries
  3. Attitudes
  4. Bears
  5. Canada
  6. Carnivores
  7. Commonwealth of Nations
  8. Conservation
  9. Developed countries
  10. Mammals
  11. national parks
  12. OECD countries
  13. outdoor recreation
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. Tourism and travel
  16. United States of America
  17. vertebrates
  18. Wild animals
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed