A recent study developed by scientists from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences revealed that intense hunting affected the behavior of Scandinavian brown bears. Females used to spend about a year and a half taking care of the bear cubs. Now, they are spending an average of two and a half years.
Mother bears spend more time with their cubs
Over the past few years, hunting in Scandinavia has been the subject of some strict regulations. Researchers suspected this influenced the behavior of bear cubs and their mothers, so they decided to start a study and find out.
In the past, it was common for bear cubs to spend about a year and a half with their mothers before starting their own life. Scientists rarely saw a tiny bear spending more time with the female bear. After comparing these 20-year-old statistics with today’s figures, they noticed an increase of about a year in the time spent by baby bears with their moms.
This behavior might be a direct result of hunting regulations in Scandinavia
Since 1984, the research team followed a large number of bears. During this period, hunters started killing more bears, and the average number of kills during 2010 and 2014 reached 300 per year. This suggests that humans can really influence the bear behavior. However, this prolonged attachment between the cub and the mother might not mean an effort to keep the young ones from being shot.
Hunting is legal in Scandinavia, but Sweden and Norway imposed some strict rules. These rules prevent hunters from shooting bear families. Therefore, the number of lonely bear who are killed is a lot higher. Therefore, mother bears might not stay with their bear cubs to protect them, but maybe to protect themselves.
Researchers published their study in the journal Nature Communications. Here, they stated how the number of mother bears who keep their cubs close for a longer period of time has greatly increased. Between 2005 and 2015, it increased from 7 percent to 36 percent. This behavior has an impact on bear populations, as mothers now give birth to fewer bear cubs.
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