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Bearing Up

February 04, 1996

I am not without prejudice in the matter of the Montana grizzlies ("Howdy, Neighbors!" by Marla Cone, Dec. 24). But my sympathies are with the bears, who are not armed--probably the only ones in the state who aren't. Perhaps the "scared" folks should worry less about bears and more about their gun-loving, trigger-happy fellow citizens. The only real hazards up there are the human ones.

Shame on Montana if the grizzles are "run out of town."

D. Kentnor

Yucaipa

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The Montana grizzly bears, if reintroduced to the wild, could pose ignificant hazards to hikers, hunters and campers, especially children. Having been in close proximity to humans, the animals probably have lost their natural shyness; their reduced fear of people could constitute a real danger.

While it is true that all bears are prodigious eaters, the statement that a bear scrounges up "one-third of its weight every day in bugs, rodents and roots" is inaccurate. A 600- to 900-pound grizzly cannot eat 200 to 300 pounds of food daily. Yes, some have been known to have literally stuffed themselves to death, but even a grizzly has its limit--perhaps 100 to 150 pounds of food daily.

Donald Morris

San Clemente

The writer responds: Not so. Grizzlies are more gluttonous than you think. In the fall, when the big bruins are preparing to hibernate for four months, they on average eat 33 % of their own body weight according to Chris Servers, a Montana biologist who heads the federal government's grizzly bear recovery.

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