Bears I Have Met—and Others
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The California Grizzly made his reputation as a man-killer in the days of the muzzle-loading rifle, when failure to stop him with one shot deprived the hunter of all advantage in respect of weapons and reversed their positions instantly, the bear becoming the hunter and the man the game. In early days, also the Grizzly had no fear of man and took no pains to keep out of his way, and bears were so numerous that chance meetings at close quarters were frequent. But with all of his ferocity when attacked and his formidable strength, the Grizzly's resentment was often transitory, and many men owe their lives to his singular lack of persistency in wreaking his wrath upon a fallen foe. Generalizations on the conduct of animals, other than in the matter of habits of life governed by what we call instinct, are likely to be misleading, and when applied to animals of high intelligence and well-developed individuality, are utterly valueless. I have found the Grizzly more intelligent than other American bears and his individual characteristics more marked and varied, and therefore am disinclined to formulate or accept any rules of conduct for him under given circumstances. No man can say what a Grizzly will or will not do, when molested or encountered, any more than he can lay down a general rule for dogs or men. One bear may display extreme timidity and run away bawling when wounded, and another may be aggressive enough to begin hostilities at sight and fight to the death. It can be said safely, however, that the Grizzly is a far more dangerous animal than the Black Bear and much more likely to accept a challenge than to run away.