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Bears and humans have co-existed for thousands of years. All eight species of bear have occupied a particular niche in human culture and development, from prehistoric times through to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) adoption of the panda bear as the organisation's logo. The most ‘exotic species’ of bear (such as sloth bear and the polar bear) have sparked the interest of animal collectors since at least 2500 BCE. Ever since that time, bears have featured in private animal collections, and with the rise of the modern (public) zoo in the 18th century, exhibited for human entertainment in zoological gardens, museums, circuses, street theatre, cafes, film and TV. They have danced, walked the tightrope, dressed up as children, and played the part of human friend (eg Grizzly Adams) and adversary (eg The Revenant), all in the name of entertaining humans. They have also played a role in traditional medicines, particularly in the East where for hundreds of years bear bile has been used for a range of curative properties.
As a result, captive bears are found all over the world, even in the most remote places. Unfortunately, many captive bears are still housed in small barren ‘crush cages’, deprived of even the most basic needs and care such as water, proper food and shelter. Globally, various species of bear are privately owned (often illegally); they are kept in backyards, next to petrol stations or roadside restaurants, or on public display at a beach or café to attract customers. Most of these bears will have health problems and display chronic behavioural problems associated with captivity. These bears are usually wild-caught as cubs, a practice that is a significant threat to the wild population in many regions. Other bears feature in circuses, typically performing by balancing on a rope during the show then spending the rest of the day confined in small circus trailers. We are perhaps most familiar with bears from visits to a zoo, where the quality of the enclosure varies from a cage barely larger than the bear to large naturalistic enclosures that resemble the bears’ wild habitat.
Knowing individuals is important. It is hard to think of a more open-ended truism with which to start a chapter on knowing individual bears, but for behavioural ecologists, it is not only important, it is essential. As Barrie Gilbert notes in the foreword to this volume, the consequences of ‘not knowing’ individual bears and/or ‘their place’ can be serious. Whether that knowledge of individuals is applied in the academic pursuit of ethology (the study of behaviour in wild animals), as a naturalist guide within the ecotourism industry or to improve husbandry in an agricultural setting, including bear farming for bile across China and southeast Asia (see Chapter 8, this volume), it draws on a deep history and heritage. In this chapter, we outline the history and trajectory of bear identification and in doing so reflect on antecedents of human/other animal relations that span millennia.
Our behavioural research with brown bears in Glendale Cove on Knight Inlet in British Columbia began in 1996 and has continued over a period of more than 20 years in partnership with Knight Inlet Lodge (KIL), a commercial bear viewing lodge based in the cove. While not unique, this long-term commitment to research by a commercial partner offers a model by which generational scale studies can be conducted beyond the boundaries of parks and protected areas, which, after all, is where most wildlife resides. As Western (2015) notes, globally most biodiversity lives outside of protected areas, though it is undoubtedly richer within protected areas (Gray et al 2016). This has profound implications for how we interact with wildlife, and in particular how people relate to charismatic megafauna.
Ethological studies at KIL have included investigation of the impact of viewing activities on the foraging energetics of bears (Nevin 2003; Nevin and Gilbert 2005b, 2005c); temporal-spatial refuging (Nevin 2003; Nevin and Gilbert 2005b, 2005c); breeding behaviour (Nevin and Gilbert 2005a); and the selection and use of mark trees in olfactory communication (Clapham 2012; Clapham et al 2012, 2013, 2014). In parallel, GPS telemetry and genetic sampling have addressed spatial movement, habitat use, connectivity, dispersal and relatedness, while social science research has explored the relationship between people and bears, and their cultural meanings (Nevin et al 2012, 2014). Much of the detailed behavioural study on the site is facilitated by the maintenance of a register of individually identifiable bears of known age-sex class.
Olfactory communication has been defined as: ‘The process whereby a chemical signal is generated by a presumptive sender and transmitted (generally through the air) to a presumptive receiver who by means of adequate receptors can identify, integrate and respond (either behaviourally or physiologically) to the signal’ (Eisenberg and Kleiman 1972, 1).
Brown bears (Ursus arctos) have been reported in literature to mark and rub on trees (Tschanz et al 1970; Green and Mattson 2003; Puchkovskiy 2009). This has been linked to olfactory communication among brown bears, though until recently no clear function had been attributed. In this chapter we present an overview of research conducted to explore the biological significance of chemical signalling in brown bears (from Clapham 2012; Clapham et al 2012, 2013, 2014). This was conducted by assessing scent marking site selection, understanding who are the signallers and receivers, and studying the postures and stereotypithy of marking behaviour. To establish why these behaviours have evolved, the significance of observed signalling behaviours can be evaluated in terms of their potential fitness benefits. Assessing the function of scent marking in brown bears provides an opportunity to establish its influence on the social behaviour of the species, thus demonstrating the importance of behavioural studies conducted in situ. Collectively, knowledge of this form of social behaviour provides a unique insight into the social complexity of this species.
BEARS AND TREE MARKING
Brown bears claw, bite, urinate and rub various parts of the body against trees, each being suggested as a method of chemical communication (Tschanz et al 1970; Lloyd 1979; Green and Mattson 2003; Puchkovskiy 2009). Brown bears are reported to use a diverse range of tree species for their marking activities; these are often referred to as ‘bear trees’ or ‘rub trees’ (Tschanz et al 1970; Puchkovskiy 2009). The use of ‘traditionally rubbed trees’ by brown bears is highlighted by Green and Mattson (2003). These are trees that are repeatedly used for marking by bears over successive years, and their non-random selection is said to indicate their importance within intraspecific communication (Tschanz et al 1970; Green and Mattson 2003; Clapham 2012; Clapham et al 2013), rather than an individual response to external stimuli as suggested by Meyer-Holzapfel (1968, in Burst and Pelton 1983).
Bears are iconic animals; they are totemic of the non-human world, symbols of multiple human-cultural manifestations of nature. In human culture, bears have played a number of roles; gods, monsters, kings, fools, brothers, lovers, dancers, medicine, food and pest. They are seen as protectors of the forest; symbols of masculinity; the strength of a fighter, football team or army; a comfort for our children; political bargaining chips; an economic indicator; the first casualty/poster boy of global warming; symbols for conservation; worthy adversaries for a hunter's rifle; prize photography subjects for nature tourists or the last bastion of wilderness. Bears offer a unique insight into a multiplicity of paradigms that explore human-non-human animal relationships. Bear totems reinforce and maintain our connection to the natural world.
Bears and humans have shared a similar geographic journey; as we colonised the world from Africa, bears did so from Europe (albeit a few thousand years earlier), with the brown bear being found most frequently where our species also found hospitable conditions. The ecology of (early) Homo sapiens and Ursus arctos (brown bear) are matched closely: dietary requirements, habitat choice and environmental tolerances. There are many stories that permeate from the past describing our ancestral eaves-dropping on bear foods (and medicines). There are stories of cultures that gathered berries in the same fields as bears and fished on the same rivers: a time when bears and people respected one another's personal space. This is true of some cultures to the present day.
Myths, legends and folklore have informed generations of our and bears’ place in the world. Oral histories passed through generations and through ever-changing norms of communication. From imagined fireside tales to blue-chip documentaries in the 21st century, bears have always been good for us to reflect upon; to ponder our lives in relation to their world, to define our own world, one seemingly at odds to the lives of the other. Bears interweave with many of our cultures.
Cave paintings, sculptures, stories of half-men and monsters, how we perceive bear species can have a huge impact on their survival. Our attitudes towards animals, people and places will shape the face of our planet, our climate and our survival.
This chapter explores bear illustrations in children's literature through a transdisciplinary, boundary-crossing approach that utilises a short story to introduce key points for discussion. Commencing with an overview of bears and the various ways they have been represented in literature, we consider a wide range of disciplines including natural science, social and cultural studies, and children's geographies. We then focus specifically on children's literature, which tends to relate to pedagogies more than other disciplines (Nikolajeva 1996). Yet the aim of most literature is to show or teach us something new, or to encourage us to look at something in a different way, and the distinction between literature created for children and ‘older readers’ is frequently an arbitrary one. The traditional tales from which many children's stories are developed – encompassing folk tales, legends, myths, fables – come from a time before the concept of childhood existed. They have evolved from oral stories that originally contained elements of violence, child abuse/neglect, cruelty and obscenity. Over time they have become sanitised and purified, deemed more fitting for the ears of children (Nikolajeva 1996). The stories we now perceive as classic children's stories were mostly adapted from adult versions, and the methods we chose for doing this reflect how we experience and know the world, and how we want children to do so (Holton and Rogers 2004). However, books for children are not just about the words, the pictures are also important, providing them with an artistic value and stimulating the imagination (Roncken and Convery 2016).
We make the argument that bear illustrations are more than just images: they inform our perceptions and anticipation of the real animal and may determine our resultant behaviour towards it. Our focus may be anglocentric, a reflection of the lived experiences of the authors, however links may be made between the work shared here and work from other cultures, other languages, other ways of being. Bears, in their real and cultural form, are truly globalised creatures. There are eight bear species: American Black Bear, Asiatic Black Bear, Brown Bear, Giant Panda Bear, Polar Bear, Sloth Bear, Spectacled Bear and Sun Bear. They are one of the most widely distributed terrestrial mammals, with a current global distribution including North and South America, Canada, Asia, Europe and circumpolar arctic regions (Bear Trust International 2011).
Bears and other large carnivores excite pubic interest and as such might seem like natural candidates for citizen science projects. In reality, however, these charismatic carnivores often live in remote, rugged, difficult terrain; they are often widely dispersed, living at low densities and are cryptic in their habits. Even though public interest in this species is high, the logistics of citizen science projects sometimes render programmes ineffective or too challenging to manage. With thoughtful planning, however, citizen science projects focusing on grizzly bear research can be a positive experience for participants and increase the scope of research databases. As a recent example of this, a 2018 project developed by the Cornell University-based New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is using data collected by citizen scientists to better understand New York's black bear population size and distribution, and how that distribution relates to forest, agricultural, and urban/suburban landscapes and communities (https://iseemammals. org/). In this chapter, we report on an earlier ‘bear citizen science’ project – Grizzly Research in the Rockies (Elmeligi 2016) – and another more established citizen science programme hosted by Alberta Parks, but first we consider the growth of citizen science.
Put simply, citizen science is the involvement of the public in scientific research; recentlywith smartphones and apps, but amateur naturalists have always played an important role in developing our understanding of nature. Before the emergence of the professional scientist it was provincial naturalists, men such as Gilbert White, who made enormous contributions to natural history (1993). White's 1789 book The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne was a pioneering work of natural history and place, and remains one of the most frequently published titles in the English language (see also David Allen's The Naturalist in Britain (1976) for an excellent account of the evolution of natural history from the 17th to the early 20th century). Today, the term ‘citizen science’ is increasingly used to describe the involvement of ‘non-expert/non-professional’ scientists in research-related activities. Citizen science is a form of research collaboration where data acquisition is performed by ‘non-expert’ individuals who are often members of the public (Catlin-Groves 2012). Typically, this approach is used for large scale scientific studies (Hart et al 2012) and projects that encourage the public to participate by acting as voluntary field assistants, gathering information to greatly increase datasets (Fowler et al 2013).
Once globally abundant ranging across Asia, Europe and North America, grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) have been classified as threatened, endangered or vulnerable in most parts of their range (Weilgus 2002). In Canada, the grizzly bear is classified as ‘Special Concern’ by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC 2018); in the contiguous United States, they are listed as ‘Endangered’ under the Endangered Species Act (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2018). From the 1940s to 1960s, habitat loss resulting from expanding human settlements and agriculture (Shelton 2001) combined with increasing negative interactions between people and bears led to the killing of grizzly bears and dramatic decreases in population sizes (McCracken 1957). Habitat loss from industrial land use practices and conflict with people continues to impact grizzly bear populations in Canada (Benn and Herrero 2002; Nielsen et al 2006).
Human use and development, such as roads, communities, industrial development and recreational use, impact grizzly bear habitat both inside and outside of protected areas in western Canada (Nielsen et al 2006; Sorensen et al 2015). Grizzly bears in western Canada exist in a multi-use landscape with home ranges often overlapping federal and provincial management agency jurisdictions (eg federal and provincial protected areas, other public lands, and private land; Bourbonnais et al 2013). Each of these jurisdictions has different management responses to grizzly bear behaviour and habitat use detailed in their respective management plans. Primary human use in each of these jurisdictions is also variable (eg recreation, private land use, and industrial or commercial use). As a result, how people react to grizzly bears and their expectations regarding bear management change across the landscape. Grizzly bears with home ranges overlapping multiple jurisdictions must navigate a complex variety of human uses and potential management responses.
There are many challenges regarding researching grizzly bear habitat use and activity in areas of human use. Their large home ranges can render data collection challenging across varying spatial scales. The diversity of habitats they can occupy across various densities and intensities of human use can make inferences at the population level difficult to defend. They are also complex animals that can make decisions based on complex stimuli and learn over time, which can render robust statistical analyses at the population scale difficult or inappropriate based on the dataset.