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Bears are the biggest predators living in the area of North Europe.  For hundreds years those animals lived close to people holding a special place in human’s imagination even till these days.

In different countries of the North, bear skins had the magic use especially in totemic ceremonies; people wore them either to imitate the animal or in order to identify with it. The magic and ritual meaning of skin clothes didn’t mean they weren’t worn on everyday basis. In the Lithuanian tradition, for instance,  fur of a bear was regarded as an old traditional costume. What is more, bear skins decorated the floors in aristocratic estates and they also could be seen at churches at that time.

In fact, they were treated as the objects of worship, and most often as a blessing for people. Hence, emotions that people felt towards bears were various: starting with fear and hostility, through respect and admiration and  to friendship.

In Poland, bear paws were regarded a great delicacy. For instance, they were served on the wedding of John Sobieski with his beloved Mary. Long enough, Polish highlanders ate bear meat. Also Slovakia and the entire Carpathians, Yugoslavia, Norway and Sweden could not do without dishes made of bear meat.

Interestingly enough, ham of bear was also recommended by Bismarck himself.

In the past, some parts of a bear were used as amulets protecting both from disasters and human illnesses. Today, American jewelers buy bear claws to frame them probably not for their aesthetic value but for the magic associated with this these objects.

The Bariball, North American Black Bear, is the most common species of a  bear in North America (from Southern Canada to Florida and Mexico). They can be 1.5 m long, the males can reach a weight of 225 kg, the females weight approximately 180 kg. The black bears have different fur coloration – from black to blue-grey and brown to cinnamon, ochre and beige – depending on the subspecies they belong to. The Bariballs can easily climb the trees, especially if they look for a shelter. In colder regions the bears hibernate during winter for a period which can last up to 7 months. In addition, this is time pregnant females give birth to 2 or 3 cubs.

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The Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) is a carnivore from The Bearish family. It can achieve from 1.5 to 3 m of the length (Kodiak Bear), to 1.25 m of the height and from 130-700 kg of the body weight (the dimensions dependent on the subspecies). Bears can have furry coats in shades of red, brown, black or silvery.

Brown bears were one native to the whole Europe, but are now extinct in the north-west of Europe (an attempt of reintroduction has been made in the Pyrenees). The Brown Bear is present in inaccessible mountain forests, from Eurasia and North America to the north of Mexico. The species primarily feed on seeds, fruit, fungi, worms , snails, birds’ eggs. They also eat honey. When it lacks natural products it can cause considerable damages among cattle and forest game. It attacks humans only when annoyed or encouraged, e.g. through feeding. In winter, it prepares a special den and falls into the winter sleep, from which from time to time it can wake up. It lives alone, only in the nuptial period in pairs. In winter, the female usually gives birth to 2-3 young whom it looks after till the next litter.

The Brown Bear is protected in the area of entire Poland.

The bear becomes tame easily, but even  tamed it can be dangerous (even for its protectors). In the 16th and the 17th century Polish Schools for bears were established (Smorogońska Academy) and demonstrations of their tricks gathered crowds. According to prof. Jan Korwin Kochanowski the last bear in central Poland was killed at the end of 17th century in Bedoński forest.
A head-and-body length: male- 160-280 cm, female – 150-210 cm, tail: 5-21 cm, height: 90-140 cm. Male’s weight: 250-500 kg (sometimes 700 kg), whereas females: 180-300 kg. Pregnancy lasts about 8 months (every two years). In the litter period there are usually 1-3 bears which are 25 cm long.

Time of the dependence on mother: 18 months. The young spend their first weeks after the birth nestling into their mother’s legs the way that they do not even touch the ground.

Bears live up to 35years.

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Grizzly (The Grey Bear, Ursus arctos horribilis), a carnivore from The Bearish Family, ranked to the predatory animals (Carnivore).

It lives in the west part of North America, it is also present in The Rocky Mountains. The length of the body can be 2 meters long, and the weight up to 500 kg. It has funny coat in shade of brown with grey or silvery. Grizzly is a subspecies of the Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) . It is omnivorous, it feeds mainly on vegetable matter, carrion, small animals. It hunts also for larger mammals. Its pray is also a smaller baribal, called the Black Bear.

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