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Bears have fascinated humans for centuries and I agree that there are few experiences as breathtaking as seeing a grizzly bear in its natural habitat. But seeing them in the wild is not so easy any longer. Grizzly bears once ranged as far east as the Mississippi River, and as far south as central Mexico. Today, they are considered a threatened species in much of the U.S., and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) lists Western grizzlies as a species of special concern. Their prairie population is already considered extinct in Canada. The North of Canada is one of the last remaining grizzly bear strongholds on the North American continent. Unfortunately, there are still many myths surrounding the lives and behaviour of bears that negatively impact our relationships with them. Stories of blood-thirsty bears attacking defenceless hikers are great stories material for the media. In the eyes of many, bears are still considered dangerous creatures that are a threat to humans. This, of course, is inaccurate at best and unhelpful at worst and surely does not contribute to an urgently needed stricter protection status. Bears are intelligent and resourceful wild predators that deserve our respect, but they surely are neither our enemy nor our friend. Based on an extensive knowledge of their behaviour and their habitat, a safe, respectful and peaceful coexistence with these powerful and noble carnivores is possible. It is their intelligence, tolerance and forgiving nature that captivates me during every single encounter.

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