Navigation Links
When bears steal human food, mom's not to blame

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) found that the black bears that become habituated to human food and garbage may not be learning these behaviors exclusively from their mothers, as widely assumed. Bears that steal human food sources are just as likely to form these habits on their own or pick them up from unrelated, bad influence bears.

The study, which examines the role of genetic relatedness in black bear behavior that leads to conflict with humans, appears in the latest edition of the Journal of Mammalogy.

Understanding how bears acquire behavior is important in conservation biology and devising strategies to minimize potential human-wildlife conflicts, says Dr. Jon Beckmann, a co-author of the study. According to our findings, bears that feed on human food and garbage are not always learning these habits from their mothers.

Distributed across much of North America, black bearswhich average around 300 pounds in weightbecome a problematic species for wildlife managers when they become accustomed to human sources of food, and the habit is a hard one to break. Bears that develop these tendencies often remain problem bears for human communities, leading to property damage, injuries to people, not to mention costly relocation and sometimes death for bears.

Working in both the Lake Tahoe Basin on the California-Nevada border and Californias Yosemite National Park (where bears breaking into visitors cars has become commonplace), the researchers examined genetic and behavioral data for 116 black bears. The bears were classified as either food-conditioned (or hooked on human food) or non-food-conditioned (those bears that forage on natural food sources). The study also focused on nine mother-offspring pairs to test the assumption that mother bears teach their cubs to invade garbage bins or homes.

The verdict: Researchers found little evidence linking food-conditioned behavior with related lineage. The study indicates that bears may seek out human food as a function of social learning that may be independent of close relatives, or as a habit that is acquired in isolation from other bears. Specifically, the study identified the mothers of nine of the bears in the study, of which five (56 percent) did not share the behavioral habits of their mothers.

These findings can help inform management strategies that would otherwise assume that cubs will always repeat the behaviors of food-conditioned mothers, says Dr. Jodi Hilty, Director of WCS-North America. Moving mothers and cubs may have only a limited effect in eliminating human-bear conflicts, which seem to be primarily driven by human food sources that are available to bears.

Meanwhile on the East Coast, WCS-Adirondacks has been supplying the High Peaks Wilderness Area in upstate New York with bear-proof food canisters for campers to rent at local stores. A recent survey found that 95 percent of campers now use the canisters, and reports of conflicts between bears and campers have declined significantly.


Contact: John Delaney
Wildlife Conservation Society

Related biology news :

1. Bear spray a viable alternative to guns for deterring bears, BYU study shows
2. New study changes conditions for Spanish brown bears
3. Researchers discover how stealthy HIV protein gets into cells
4. Is that sea otter stealing your lunch -- or making it?
5. Researchers report the cloning of a key group of human genes, the protein kinases
6. Ancient Nutcracker Man challenges ideas on evolution of human diet
7. Dawn of human matrilineal diversity
8. Bloodless worm sheds light on human blood, iron deficiency
9. Are humans hardwired for fairness?
10. Human vascular system in mice
11. Scientists find a fingerprint of evolution across the human genome
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
When bears steal human food, mom's not to blame
(Date:5/24/2016)... facilitates superior patient care by providing unparalleled technology to leaders of the medical imaging ... product recently added to the range of products distributed by Ampronix. Photo ... ... ... News ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... DALLAS , May 12, 2016 ... has just published the overview results from the Q1 ... of the recent wave was consumers, receptivity to a ... wearables data with a health insurance company. ... choose to share," says Michael LaColla , CEO ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... and BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 ... a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), ... a global partnership that will provide end customers ... mobile banking and payment services.      (Logo: ... innovation area for financial services, but it also plays a ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Epic ... sensitively detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors by ... tumor cells (CTCs). The new test has already ... therapeutics in multiple cancer types. Over ... DNA damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Mosio, a ... eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced clinical research ... by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , “The landscape ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... - FACIT has announced the creation of a ... Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the Company"), to ... of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the treatment of ... an exciting class of therapies, possessing the potential ... patients. Substantial advances have been achieved with the ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. is ... has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI approval ... Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate methods ...
Breaking Biology Technology: