The Poloniny National Park (Slovakia, 406 km2) is located in the Eastern Carpathians and borders the Bieszczady region in Poland. The number of bears moving across this area has been estimated in 25 individuals, from which 15 have been confirmed by non-invasive genetic analysis. Stofik and Saniga have recorded a total of 17 winter dens and 15 beds of brown bears in Poloniny National Park and its surroundings. The first record from a bear denning site was from 1974, a female with cubs in the Osadné region. They found that most dens are at a SW exposition, in steeper slopes, and located between 500 to 900 m a.s.l. The authors also discussed cases of winter den abandonment, mainly related to forest road upgrading, collective hunting, forestry activities and deer antler gathering. Six of the 11 winter dens were found in forest reserves, which suggest the need for undisturbed areas for brown bears in winter. The article can be downloaded here.
- Created on Thursday, 18 April 2013 19:28
- Created on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 21:03
Despite extensive genetic studies, the evolutionary relationship between polar bears and brown bears has been an ongoing debate. At the center of this controversy are brown bears from the Alaskan ABC Islands, in the Alexander Archipelago, which have mitochondrial DNA that looked just like polar bear DNA (mitochondrial DNA comes only from the mother). The authors of a recent study suggest that “the enigmatic ABC Islands brown bears derive from a population of polar bears likely stranded by the receding ice at the end of the last glacial period”. Alaska mainland was then colonized by brown bears due to climate warming. Brown bear males, which are the ones that disperse, would have swum across the sea to ABC Islands and mate with the female polar bears in the island over thousands of years. “As a result, the ABC bears eventually came to look and act like brown bears, while still maintaining traces of their polar bear past in their mitochondrial DNA” Science news report.
- Created on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 19:24
Awarded with the World Press Photo 2013 in the category Interactive Documentary, “Bear 71” tells the story of a female grizzly bear in the Canadian Rockies, since she was collared at the age of 3 till her demise. Created by Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes, the documentary is based on images captured on remote trail cameras in Banff National Park, and it is the result of a large collaborative project. This unique and powerful way of telling a story, by Bear 71 itself, brings to light the problem of increasing human, road and rails encroachment into natural areas, as well as our dependence on technology. Enjoy it here!
- Created on Monday, 21 January 2013 21:33
Scientists from the Belarussian Academy of Science and the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", together with the Frankfurt Zoological Society, want to reintroduce bears in the Bialowieza Forest. According to the survey on public opinion in Belarus, about 80 per cent of the inhabitants and workers of the national park support the reintroduction. About 8 bears per year are planned to be translocated, probably from Russia. The brown bear disappeared from the Bialowieza Forest in the second half of the XIX century. In the 30s of the XX century, the Bialowieza National Park conducted a bear reintroduction program, which was disrupted by the World War II. Probably this was the first attempt to reintroduce brown bears in the world. Bears visit the Bialowieza Forest very sporadically. The last observation of a brown bear was in 2010 in the northern part of the Forest. More information about the reintroduction or bear population in Belarus here.
- Created on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 21:36
Hunting of large carnivores is known to have demographic consequences; however, the effects on carnivore behavior are less known. A recent study in Sweden comparing the movement patterns of 78 bears before and during the annual bear hunting season shows a change in bear activity with the start of hunting. Bear hunting (from 21st August till the quota is filled, usually October) is basically allowed during daytime, and coincides with moose hunting season. Hunting often finishes just when the bears enter their winter dens (end of October). Bears were expected to become more diurnal. However, solitary bears, subject to hunting, moved less during daylight after hunting started, and compensate this by increasing movements during the dark hours. Family groups, which are protected regardless of cubs’ age, also modified their movement patterns, but much less than hunted bears. Solitary bears adjusted their daily activity patterns to prevent encounters with humans. Ordiz and co-authors highlight that hunting season represents a disturbance that overlaps with hyperphagia, a critical time of the year, when bears must store reserves before hibernation.