Photo: Jim Sinclair, USFW Midwest (CC by 2.0)

Photo: Jim Sinclair, USFW Midwest (CC by 2.0)


I am excited to announce that my piece, “The Imagined Bear” has been published in Zoomorphic Magazine.

For most of us, the wild black bear is like an image on Plato’s cave wall – a shadow cast by an animal we will never see. For some, the imagined bear takes a simple friendly form resembling a large sociable dog. For others, the bear’s shadowy image takes on a more menacing temperament – that of a blood-thirsty predator.

But today, with bears moving into our cities, more people are coming face-to-face with the complex reality of these creatures, one that is neither pet-like nor predatory. Today’s urban bears are smart and versatile – and changed.  We have shaped them, and in some surprising ways, have made them more like ourselves.

Woven into a first-hand account of a backpacking trip cut short by black bears, I wrote this story to examine the natural history of wild and urban black bears, our relationship with the animals throughout human history, and the ways in which bears have been shaped by us as they’ve come to enjoy the urban lifestyle.


The Imagined Bear

Or in the night, imagining some fear
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

 – Shakespeare. “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”


The rain had started before bedtime. Now in the dark of night, it whipped itself into a full out storm; heavy drops pounded the shingled roof of the three-sided lean-to and wind snapped the tent fly we had hung over the front opening. With each gust the fly billowed, launching a light spray onto our sleeping bags and faces. Between lightning flashes the dark was so thorough it seemed solid.

With everything but our imagination drowned out by the beating rain we strained our ears, listening for the bears…


Read the rest here:  The Imagined Bear. Then come back and tell me about your bear encounters — real or imagined.