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     Life begins for a bear cub in the dark.  New life is born in the middle of winter while their mothers are tucked away for the long months of cold and snow.  The combination of an enclosed space, along with taking refuge under mama bear, prevents cubs from feeling the winter chill.  Months of this close warmth and rich milk prepares them for their first steps outside.

     Emerging from the den in the spring begins the learning of how to be a bear.  Outside of cub mortality, the mother bear teaches her offspring everything about survival from the day of birth, to the age of independence, at approximately one and a half years of age (Eiler et al., 1989).  A large part of learning independent survival includes acquiring knowledge of edible foods.  Bears have a highly varied diet which ranges from the products of mast trees, such as acorns, to a plethora of berries, as well as roots and shoots, to insects, fish, and flesh, fresh or carrion.

Female moose in Colorado, credit to Dan Brown
Mother and Baby Moose video

Elk remains in Colorado, credit to Dan Brown

Co-owner Shelly Brown with a black coyote, credit to Dan Brown. 

Puma full mount, credit to Dan Brown
     Although not as common in Black Bears as in the Grizzly,

Female mule deer in Colorado, credit to Dan Brown

Mule deer shoulder mount by Dans Taxidermy, credit to Dan Brown

Preserved tick, credit to Chrisitna Burkhart

My brother, Jason Brown (5'9"), with his first bear 2013, photo credit to Dan Brown
 they are known to hunt large herbivores, mule deer and whitetail being the general targets.  The common roadkill carcasses are but a mouthful for a bear, even less than that for a female with cubs.  An elk or moose carcass, however, provides enough energy for more than one meal with little to no energy expenditure.

     As a meat eater, the bear competes with other predators throughout its geographic range.  Those predators include the puma, known by many names, the wolf,  and the coyote, to name a few American staples.  Although these predators contribute to cub mortality, as well as adult male bears, they are also the reason the mother bears have the reputation for being fiercely protective.

     Aside from being a predator and a competitor, the bear, like most organisms, also serves as a host.  Probably the most well known woodland parasite to animalia, the blood sucking tick, is an example.  Of course, any parasite that has the ability to attach and detach, or enter and leave, at will, will also transmit an unimaginable amount of pathogens.

     In relation to humans, bears have long been a prey animal.  In our early history they provided food, clothing, and shelter, among other things.  As time passed, our knowledge increased and ideologies changed.  At first this caused rapid declines in bear populations around the world, in some places this is still an issue.  With the evolution of technology and discovery of the importance of conservation, bears are now making a come back from the damage we caused them.  I
ncreased populations allow for proper management techniques that research helps to design.

     In the United States today, much of the hunting is due to tradition, with an added benefit of managing populations.  Bear meat has a taste like no other organism, largely due to their varied diet.  However, many people also like to keep trophies of the hunt.  Trophies can vary from claws or teeth, to full mounts and rugs, the latter being more popular.  Not only do trophies harbor the special memories of the hunt, but they provide an excellent story starter and conservation piece.
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