Bears and Radical Ecology by Sara Wright

My friend

As an eco feminist I am deeply concerned with the loss of the animals I love. One of these is the Black bear whose visits are becoming more and more scarce as the forest around me disappears. The bear in this poem is unlike the bears I used to know in that he is terrified of me. When I first fell in love with bears it was because they embodied the soul and body of the Great Mother in a way that was meaningful to me. It is no accident that Black bears were honored as great healers by Indigenous peoples around the globe. The first images of them appeared on cave walls approximately 50,000 years ago.

Visionary Night

A furry
 shadow –
ever dimming vision –
did I imagine
The woods
are needled –
 Bare twigs
 stick out,
pine spears 
behind Her. 
Mother Tree –
She who 
sheltered his kin.
 He thinks
rough elephantine
 arms will
protection from
his greatest threat –
human supremacy.
I cry out in desperation:
“I am not one of them”.
(this woman who loves bears)

He doesn’t know me.
He hides
behind ribbed bark
even at dusk
tasting the air nervously,
padding around
a can in circles
as if it might bite.
My scent is on it.
With one
clawed paw
 he separates
from container –
charges into wild brush
at the clatter.
His nose brings him
Crackling boughs,
his continuous
 fear driven pacing
distract me.
One picture
comes out.
We have
 I contact,
eye contact,
and for one
timeless moment
 it sticks.
He feels
my longing.
Will it be enough?
I need him.
He doesn’t need me.
I am the enemy.
The few morsels
he swallows
won’t appease
the terrible hunger
he lives with –
He is starving
 for Sovereignty,
 freedom from Terror.
Humans have stolen
his country,
slaughtered the forests
he evolved with.
 Man torments,
turns his relatives,
kind dogs,
against him,
 gut shoots him
in the belly
for fun –
projects Predator
onto a hapless
 Prey Animal.

Why would he
ever trust me?
And yet…
He saw me.
When I enlarged
 his picture
I glimpsed raw fright –
ebony beads
boring into my own.
A Question.
A Plea?
 Oh Great Bear,
 let him stay
for a spell…
 He’ll be safe here
roaming over moss
covered paths.
  Lively young evergreens,
    crystal brooks,
and one old woman
want to be
his companions.
For Now.
When the Hunt begins
there’s no
for any of us
his shrinking
world is also
our own.
We are losing
the Spirit of
the land
we love –
the Embodied Soul
of the Earth
is dying.

What Extinction Really Means…

Excerpts:  Eileen Crist (Radical Ecology)

“What’s happening during this ecological crisis is the collapse of the web of life: biological diversity, wildlife populations, wild ecologies. We’re in the midst of a mass-extinction event. It’s called the “sixth extinction,” because there have been five others in the last 540 million years. Mass extinctions are extremely rare. They’re monumental setbacks, not normal events. It takes 5 to 10 million years for life to recover from one…Non human species are going extinct primarily because the environment is changing so rapidly, so catastrophically, that they can’t adapt. If we keep going as we’re going, we will likely lose 50 percent or more of the planet’s species in this century…

And in addition to outright extinction, there are wholesale eliminations of local populations of plants and animals. The killing of wildlife is so profound that scientists have coined the term defaunation to capture it. We’re emptying out the planet. Big or small, herbivores or carnivores, marine or freshwater or terrestrial — it’s happening across the board. There’s a sad and facile view circulating that extinction is natural, so what does it matter if it’s human-caused? What this ignores is that the vast majority of species becoming extinct are robust, meaning they’re well adapted to their surroundings. These are healthy species experiencing overwhelming pressure from the human onslaught…When we drive a species to extinction, we’re prematurely taking out of existence a unique, amazing manifestation of life that has never existed before and will never arise again, and we’re extinguishing all possibilities of its evolution into new forms.”

 Black bears are only one example of an animal that is on its way to extinction.

Black bears are totally dependent upon trees/healthy forests in order to have adequate protection from predators. They co- evolved as a prey species approximately 12,000 years ago along with the forests that once covered the US. As the forests have been cut the bears have disappeared except in the few forested areas that are left. Black bears have been demonized by the hunting community. In reality they are shy, reticent, NERVOUS animals who huff, moan, and slap when approached by humans if they don’t run away first. They are terrified not only of humans but of dogs because they have been hunted with such cruelty.

As the logging machine’s maw devoured more trees, more and more of the land has been fragmented. Bears have neither adequate protection or enough food. Ironically, the three month bear hunting season continues even as these animals disappear. I used to say people wouldn’t be happy until every bear in Maine is extirpated. Well that time is drawing near…


Sara is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.

Author: Sara Wright

I am a writer and naturalist who lives in a little log cabin by a brook with my two dogs and a ring necked dove named Lily B. I write a naturalist column for a local paper and also publish essays, poems and prose in a number of other publications.

3 thoughts on “Bears and Radical Ecology by Sara Wright”

  1. Poor bear! I suspect that all our wild animals–who as living creatures are our cousins–need our help and our care, that is, we need to take care of them to keep them alive. Bright blessings to your work with the bears and the trees and everything else in nature.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know where you are getting your information but in the United States alone we have lost 3/4 of our trees – and most of the ones remaining are farmed.


Please familiarize yourself with our Comment Policy before posting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: