Despite such hunting practices as this, the future of bears as game animals now looks considerably more promising than it did some years ago. There used to be quite a commercial demand for their fur, and the larger species suffered from a certain amount of hide hunting when rugs made from the skins of brownies, polars and grizzlies brought high prices on a worldwide market. There was also a lot of trapping, particularly for black bears, in the days when bearskin shakos were widely used with the dress uniforms of various European regiments. The disappearance of these markets has helped the bears greatly. And—while the idea may seem a bit mystifying—so has the enormous increase in the number of sportsmen who like to go bear hunting.
The truth is that bears, along with the other game species on this continent, would soon be wiped out almost completely were it not for the interest of sportsmen in the animals' welfare. The 15 million hunters in the United States and Canada are strong enough politically to see that game gets the effective legal protection it needs. And as the present sale of hunting and fishing licenses brings in close to $100 million every year, the state conservation departments, along with those of the Canadian provinces, are now staffed by real experts in game management. Furthermore, the laws are more strictly enforced, for the money from hunting licenses now enables these same departments to employ wardens of higher caliber. With all these factors in their favor, the bear populations in all species are holding up very well, and these supremely interesting animals will afford some grand sport for a long time to come.