Can Americans willingly cede space and some lifestyle habits to aid the ongoing recovery of a large, potentially dangerous predator that pads around in their midst?

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I have bear stories. I used to see Eastern black bears daily when I lived in Maine, in the woods. In one case, friends took their parents out to dinner, and had leftovers to take home. In helping the elderly parents from the car, they placed the bag of food temporarily on the trunk of the car, leaving a fragrant grease spot. In the morning, they found huge scratches and dents in the trunk lid, as some bear decided to dig for that fancy Chinese meal that might be in the trunk.

My father and his friend had a fishing camp out in the Allagash region of Maine. A couple of friends borrowed it for a long weekend. Despite warnings, they brought bacon with them. My father advised them to avoid carrying anything with a strong food odor, as the local bears had no manners. The visitors poured the bacon grease on the ground outside the door. When my father returned, he found the ground around the door torn up, as if bears had attacked it with their claws. As he put it, “They were digging for the delicious pig they thought was buried there.”

Bears in the North are either sharing space with humans as developments and leisure activities infringe on their space. Climate change and loss of prey force them to move into human space to find food, whether it is trash, domestic animals, pets, or humans. I will no longer tent camp in bear country. Black bears rarely fully attack humans, but when they do, they do a lot of damage.

In the Arctic, no one leaves home without a weapon for polar bears. Bears adapt well, like humans. They will find a way to survive until they have enough nutrition for breeding and hibernation. (Note: Polar bears do not hibernate. This activity may increase in other bear breeds as winter temperatures rise.) Since grizzly and polar bears are identical in DNA, they interbreed. As polar bears move further south looking for big prey animals, they will encounter grizzlies, and in mating season, well, they will do what comes naturally. Super grizzlies will be the result.

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