Brown bears would rather meet a human than an aggressive male

(ORDO NEWS) — Male brown bears pose a great danger to females with cubs, therefore, for the period of raising offspring, the bears go closer to the cities, putting up with the presence of people for the sake of greater safety of the cubs.

Among brown bears , killing cubs, or infanticide , is a common thing: males can even crush their own cubs so that the female becomes ready for mating again within a few days.

For a she-bear, killing offspring is an irretrievable loss of precious resources that she has already given away during pregnancy and the long winter months of feeding her cubs in a den. Therefore, females with cubs try their best to avoid meeting with aggressive males.

Since female bears cannot physically cope with larger and heavier males, there is only one thing left for them: to go to those places that bears usually try not to visit.

Indeed, by tracking the movements of females with the help of GPS collars, scientists found that during the rut – from May to July – some she-bears with cubs move closer to roads and human settlements, where there are more chances to save cubs.

The study was conducted in the Cantabrian mountains in northern Spain for 20 years and revealed that there is a “social stratification” in the bear population: dominant females occupied the best places to raise their offspring high in the mountains, where neither people nor heavy male bears wander.

Less fortunate female bears were left to settle in the valleys, where there are more male bears, and the only way to avoid them was to move closer to people.

As the bear population grew, the number of “outsider” females became more and more, and the probability of meeting a male with them increased, therefore, in recent years, cases of the appearance of female bears on the outskirts of cities and near major highways have become more frequent.

This, in turn, may lead to additional problems for the local population, and some areas are likely to be closed to tourists during several months of the bear rut.

Brown bears would rather meet a human than an aggressive male 2
Although bears visit human settlements from time to time, they are unlikely to ever become welcome guests there

Unfortunately, the fact that large predators are beginning to appear more and more often next to a person is a bad sign.

This indicates that the number of bears in the Cantabrian mountains has exceeded the ecological optimum. Now scientists, in collaboration with the local government, will have to develop a program to resolve the “bear issue” before wild animals begin to pose a serious threat.


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