Bears play an important role in the environment. We are just beginning to learn how bears positively impact the environment. For example, bears play a role in fertilizing forests by dragging salmon carcasses throughout forests and depositing scat on the forest floor. In eating fruit and nuts, they disperse seeds. And each seed is deposited on the forest floor with a little ‘fertilizer’ to get it started. Bears also help to clean up carcasses and, as predators, they help keep populations such as deer and moose in balance.
Bears are also a good indicator species. Bears need a variety of habitats to survive and thus managing habitat for bears benefits many other species including humans. If the land is healthy enough to support a fit bear population, then it is also healthy enough to support people.
Bears have much to teach us. For example, how can a denning female bear shut down her digestive and excretory systems and still deliver and nurse cubs? Usually the bones in mammals who are inactive for long periods of time lose calcium and become weak – so, how can bears sleep for half a year and yet come out of the den with strong bones? People are studying the bear to further human knowledge about everything from osteoporosis to kidney disorders to organ preservation to long-distance space travel.
Bears also have considerable economic value as wildlife enthusiasts, tourists, photographers all pay spend significant sums of money in order to hunt or view bears. In Canada, where we are still lucky enough to have healthy populations of wildlife, people come from around the world to have an opportunity to view them.
People have been fascinated with bears throughout time and around the world. They have captivated the human imagination and have become woven into the fabric of myths, legends and anecdotes. Bears are a part of human culture in countless ways — from First Nations ceremonies to myths to teddy bears.
Bears are an integral part of the Canadian landscape. One study showed that people valued just knowing that bears were out there even if they never saw them. There is just something about this animal that touches us. Although difficult to capture the essence of the bear in words, it is evident that just having bears around fuels the human spirit.
Watch this short video from WhyBears.org http://whybears.org/film/#.VKgbhivF98E