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Introduction: What is a bear?
chapterposted on 18.02.2020, 00:00 by Owen Nevin, I Convery, P Davis, J Kitchin, M Clapham
In this book, we look at the world of bears through the lens of human cultures and societies, encompassing history, folk stories, art and literature alongside science and conservation. This is a reasonably novel approach to take, but one that we think is long overdue. Bears transcend both natural and disciplinary boundaries. In the following introductory sections, we focus on one species of bear, the brown bear Ursus arctos; it is only at this point in the book where we discuss bear biology, behaviour and ecology as a way of introducing these extraordinary animals. Whilst we recognise that 'other species of bear are available', we would argue that the brown bear in particular holds a special place in human emotions, and to a greater or lesser extent the story we tell below can also be applied to other bears, in other places, at other points in time.