12" x 9" oil
Early settlers to North America faced many hardships, not the least of which were large predators like the mountain lion, wolf and black bear. As more and more demand for pelts fueled a growing world trade, it in turn reduced significantly the food supply of each predator; without their natural prey the next best source became domestic stock or even the humans that tended them.
It was the black bear that ravaged corn and wheat fields, becoming so bold as to enter buildings for domestic animals secured there for the night. Those occasions being the bloody instinctual slaughter of all confined animals. If attacks occurred outside in the field, however, one victim was usually sufficient. Thus this scourge of the settlers, and the terror they invoked, spawned expedient measures to destroy these dark woodland predators.
Where guns and dogs might fail, large iron traps were employed. These traps were for the most part made by blacksmiths and so varied from smith to smith, but most were of the same overall dimension, depending on their purpose. This painting depicts a typical black bear trap and one beleaguered victim of a bear's wanton hunger.
This image appears on a Pennsylvania State historical information marker along the Rails to Trails path, in Slate Run, PA.