Spectacled Bear

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Because spectacled bears are shy, peaceful, and elusive and avoid contact with humans by climbing the tallest of trees, no one knows exactly how many remain in the wild.

Spectacled bears are shy, peaceful, and elusive, and avoid contact with humans. They work hard to avoid human detection and confrontation.

There are no verified accounts of fatal bear-human confrontations, at least none in which the person did not survive, as Andean bear attacks are virtually unheard of.

The continued survival of spectacled bears alongside humans has depended mostly on their ability to climb even the tallest trees of the Andes.

Unlike other bear species, such as the brown bear, Andean bears are not particularly big and are extremely capable climbers, preferring to run from danger and hide in treetops than defend themselves aggressively. When approached by people, they invariably retreat, often by climbing trees. For the bear, safety means getting as far away as quickly as possible-usually by climbing into the thick, tangled canopy.

Spectacled bears have even been observed building platforms of bent and broken branches in trees in order to watch cornfields or herds of cattle in order to wait until there is no sign of humans. The bears are quickly able to build the platforms in an attempt to hide from the sight of the humans below. If the humans do not retreat, the bear may break off and throw branches at the intruders. Andean bears will even try to escape by jumping from tree to tree.

Because spectacled bears are shy and stealthy and live in remote habitats, no one knows exactly how many remain in the wild. Estimates range from a high of 20,000 to as few as 2,400. Recent estimated population sizes for most speculated bear areas are small, with a total estimate for the Northern Andes, (excluding most of Peru, Bolivia, and northern Argentina,) comprised anywhere between 6,000 and 10,000 individuals.

Sources: (LaFee, 2009; Naranjo & Hernández; Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)
Image: Tambako the Jaguar

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