The black bear's primary predator is man.
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The black bear's primary predator is man.
    The black bear's primary predator is man. During the American colonial period and after, black bears were hunted almost to extinction on the East Coast. Many states paid bounties for bears, and as late as 1977, there was still a bounty law on the books in Highland County, Virginia (even though it had been more than 30 years since the last bounty was paid).
    In addition to the historical uncontrolled harvest encouraged by bounties, black bear numbers were reduced by timber harvesting and burning, clearing land for crops and grazing, and other encroachments associated with an expanding civilization. By the early 1900s, the once-numerous black bear could be found only in remote mountainous areas of Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
    As small farms failed and people moved back to the cities, bear habitat slowly recovered and populations started to increase. The early establishment of national parks and national forests in the East helped save the black bear in that region.
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