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Bears have been hunted for various reasons by humans since Stone Age people stalked the great cave bears of Europe. They are still sought for trophy value or for various economic assets, including meat, fur, teeth, and fat.

Bear meat is prized as a food source in China, as is the flesh of the polar bear in the Far North. The liver of the polar bear, however, is poisonous to humans because of its high level of vitamin A. Bear meat is considered edible, except immediately after winter. It tastes much like pork and is similarly prepared.

The pelts of bears have been valued for centuries, and traders have sold them for bearskin rugs, hats, coat trimmings, and muffs. The teeth and claws of bears are used as ornaments by North American Indians and Eskimos. Bear fat serves as a grease for frying food and for softening materials such as leather. In North America the grizzly has been a favorite prey of hunters.

Live bears have been used throughout the ages as entertainment, sometimes in ways that now seem cruel. The Roman emperor Caligula once staged a tremendous fight, pitting 400 bears against large dogs and gladiators. In Europe, until the late 17th century, a spectacle called bearbaiting was common: a dog attacked a bear chained to a stake.

The trapping of bears is sometimes considered necessary to protect property, because bears can cause considerable damage. The grizzly bear often attacks livestock, and some bears destroy fruit trees and other crops.

All of these incentives for hunting bears have resulted in the reduction of bear populations in some parts of the world. The brown bear has been almost eliminated from many parts of Europe, and during the 19th century grizzlies were almost exterminated in the United States. In many countries today bears are protected in national parks and by carefully regulated hunting policies.

From Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia 1998

The bears available to hunters on the North American continent range from the Alaskan Brown (averaging 800 pounds live weight, and they've been known to reach 1,600 pounds), through the Grizzly (which actually can be colored from light cream to black), to the smaller American Black Bear (which isn't really black but may be cinnamon, dark brown, blue-grey, or cream) and will range from 200 to 500 pounds live weight.

As with any game, the young animals are much more tender and, in the case of bears, much more tasty. While bears are still in the juvenile stage their diet consists mainly of berries and roots. When bears reach 2 years, they turn omnivorous, eating fish from streams if available and even eating carrion. It's quite common for a bear to prefer a "high" garbage pail to a fresh meal. While the eviscerating of a bear is one of the most unpleasant chores in game cleaning, it is wise to check the stomach contents; if there is a sign that the bear has been eating fish, keep it in mind. That fish taste will be in the flesh when you eat it. Heavy seasonings and use of many herbs can help to some extent, as can marinating, but the fish taste is still there.

If you question the age of the animal, check the claws and teeth. Both are sharper in young animals. Since bears can be subject to the trichinosis parasite, the flesh should always be well cooked. This is not much of a disadvantage however, since even young bear is tough if cooked rare. Only young bear, incidentally, does not require moist cooking.

Bear should be hung for at least a week before cutting. The usual cuts are from the saddle, loin, haunch, and ribs. The paws of young bears are considered a delicacy by some. To skin bear-paw pads, hold over an open fire until the skin on the pads blisters, then peel off. Cut off the nails.

The heavy body fat can be stripped off and rendered. This a traditional dressing for leather goods, and many western cooks prefer to use bear fat in cake baking although personally I don't care to use it that way.

Jacqueline E. Knight


Bear Chops

Recipe By:	Native Indian Wild Game, Fish, & Wild Foods Cookbook

Amount	Measure	Ingredient	Preparation Method
6	md	Bear Chops	
1	ea	Clove Garlic, Halved	
2	tb	Bacon Fat	
1	lg	Onion, Chopped	
4	lg	Carrots, Diced And Cooked	
4	tb	Unbleached All-Purpose Flour	
4	tb	Chili Sauce	
1/2	c	Dry Wine	
		Salt And Pepper To Taste	

  Rub the chops with the halved clove of garlic.  Melt the bacon fat in
  a skillet and sear the chops on both sides. Place the chops in a
  lightly grease baking dish. Saute the onions and carrots in the
  skillet until the onions are transparent but not browned.  Mix in the
  flour, chili sauce and wine.  Cook until thickened. On top of each
  chop, place an equal amount of the carrot mixture.  Pour 1 cup of
  water into the baking dish; cover with foil and bake at 375 Degrees
  F. for 60 to 70 minutes or until tender.

Bear Fillet In Burgundy

Recipe By:	Hunters Information Service	

Amount	Measure	Ingredient	Preparation Method
		=== MARINADE ===	
4	cups	Chopped mixed onions	
1 1/2	cups	Chopped carrots	
1 1/2		Minced garlic cloves	
2/3	cup	Chopped celery	
2		Bay leaves	
1	teaspoon	Tarragon	
5	cups	Dry white wine	
		=== FILLET OF BEAR ===	
		Bear fillet	
		Salt	to taste
6	medium	Onions - (6 to 8)	peeled
1/2	package	Baby carrots	
1	cup	Sliced celery	
6	cups	Burgundy	
2	cups	Beef stock	

    Combine all marinade ingredients.  Marinate bear fillet in 
 refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
    When preparing to cook, pat the meat dry with paper towels. 
 Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Salt the meat well.  Place the 
 fillet in a roasting pan and add vegetables.  Pour wine and 
 stock over all and put uncovered roast in oven.  Cook for 3 
 1/2 hours.  Baste frequently.  Bear fillet is done when center 
 of roast does not bleed when pierced with a two-tined fork.

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