In the Company of Bears: What Black Bears Have Taught Me about Intelligence and Intuition

In the Company of Bears: What Black Bears Have Taught Me about Intelligence and Intuition

Benjamin Kilham

Language: English

Pages: 296

ISBN: 1603585877

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In In the Company of Bears, originally published in hardcover as Out on a Limb, Ben Kilham invites us into the world he has come to know best: the world of black bears.

For decades, Kilham has studied wild black bears in a vast tract of Northern New Hampshire woodlands. At times, he has also taken in orphaned infants–feeding them, walking them through the forest for months to help them decipher their natural world, and eventually reintroducing them back into the wild. Once free, the orphaned bears still regard him as their mother. And one of these bears, now a 17-year-old female, has given him extraordinary access to her daily life, opening a rare window into how she and the wild bears she lives among carry out their daily lives, raise their young, and communicate.

Witnessing this world has led to some remarkable discoveries. For years, scientists have considered black bears to be mostly solitary. Kilham's observations, though, reveal the extraordinary interactions wild bears have with each other. They form friendships and alliances; abide by a code of conduct that keeps their world orderly; and when their own food supplies are ample, they even help out other bears in need. Could these cooperative behaviors, he asks, mimic behavior that existed in the animal that became human? In watching bears, do we see our earliest forms of communications unfold?

Kilham's dyslexia once barred him from getting an advanced academic degree, securing funding for his research, and publishing his observations in the scientific literature. After being shunned by the traditional scientific community, though, Kilham’s unique findings now interest bear researchers worldwide. His techniques even aid scientists working with pandas in China and bears in Russia. Moreover, the observation skills that fueled Kilham’s exceptional work turned out to be born of his dyslexia. His ability to think in pictures and decipher systems makes him a unique interpreter of the bear's world.

In the Company of Bears delivers Kilham’s fascinating glimpse at the inner world of bears, and also makes a passionate case for science, and education in general, to open its doors to different ways of learning and researching–doors that could lead to far broader realms of discovery.

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Mother’s home range. So it is in this way that Squirty’s daughters and granddaughters who live in the greater home range continue to expand their portions of it, and evolve their family group. In years when there is no new real estate, Squirty will stop nursing her cubs in the winter den. To understand why, you need to understand a bit about the bear breeding cycle and the factors that drive it. Bears pick the spring of the year for their breeding season because that’s when food is most evenly.

Answer lies in the type of social behavior that has evolved with each of the species. Cats are solitary animals who will fend for themselves and their offspring; dogs are social, living in packs with fixed territories, with their lives and resources controlled by a dominant alpha pair. Cats didn’t need to evolve complex behavior to interact with others of their own kind, as much of their lives would be spent by themselves. Highly social animals like dogs and chimpanzees who live in small groups.

To survive in the wild. I chronicled my experiences with those early cubs in my first book, Among the Bears, published in 2002. Since then, more than one hundred cubs and juveniles orphaned by logging operations, car accidents, hunting, and other causes have ended up in my care. But this is only part of my work with bears. For nearly twenty years now, I’ve been interacting with wild black bears as a state-licensed bear researcher. My work is safe, methodical, and officially sanctioned.

They came over to me and started suckling on my fingers. I told Richard that that was their signal to let me know they intended to stay put there for the night. He was impressed, and felt they had planned to stay out for the night rather than go back to their cage. As we walked down the hill toward the sugarhouse, Wrangham gave me a very nice compliment: “Whatever you tell me I will believe.” He invited me to visit his chimpanzee research station in Kibale, Uganda, and to present my findings to.

Equality. In 1983 the National Commission on Excellence in Education issued a report called A Nation at Risk, which revealed problems in what students were studying, how hard they were studying, and how much they were learning. In response, some have raised academic standards and launched new testing programs. “Others,” wrote Chester E. Finn, Jr., in a 1989 issue of Commentary, “have enacted comprehensive education-reform legislation, which add to graduation requirements, decrease the average.

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