Bear hibernation: More than a winter’s nap

A brown bear with two cubs looks out of its den in the woods under a large rock in winter.

Enlarge / A brown bear with two cubs looks out of its den in the woods under a large rock in winter. (credit: Byrdyak | Getty)

Every spring, as days in the north stretch longer and melting snow trickles into streams, drowsy animals ranging from grizzlies to ground squirrels start to rally from hibernation. It’s tempting to say that that they are “waking up,” but hibernation is more complicated and mysterious than a simple long sleep: Any animal that can spend months underground without eating or drinking and still emerge ready to face the world has clearly mastered an amazing trick of biology.

The roster of animals that hibernate includes all manner of rodents, some amphibians and even a few primates (several species of dwarf lemurs), but bears are literally the biggest hibernators of them all. Adult grizzly and black bears weigh as much as American football players, or more, with the energy and curiosity of preschoolers, but they have no trouble hunkering down for months at time. The choreography that goes into shutting down a creature this big defies easy explanation, says Elena Gracheva, a neurophysiologist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. “Hibernation is so complex it requires adaptations at multiple levels,” she says.

Bear hibernation offers important insights into the workings of large mammals, especially us, explains Gracheva, who coauthored an exploration of the physiology of hibernation in the 2020 Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology. A better understanding of the process could potentially change our approach to a wide range of human conditions, including stroke, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s (see sidebar).

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#animal-behavior, #bears, #biology, #climate-change, #hibernation, #science

DNA Evidence Reveals Hank the Tank Isn’t One Bear, but Several

At least three black bears are behind a string of brazen break-ins in the Lake Tahoe area, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

#bears, #lake-tahoe-nev

Hank the Tank, a 500-Pound Bear, Ransacks a California Community

Paintballs, bean bags, sirens and Tasers cannot keep the “exceptionally large bear” from seeking leftover pizza and other food. Officials say he has broken into at least 28 homes since July.

#animals, #bears, #food, #hank-the-tank, #hibernation, #south-lake-tahoe-calif, #vandalism, #waste-materials-and-disposal

‘An Environmentalist With a Gun’: Inside Steven Rinella’s Hunting Empire

With “MeatEater” on Netflix and a growing roster of podcasts, he is teaching a new kind of hunter about how killing animals can be part of loving nature.

#bears, #conservation-of-resources, #deer, #gun-control, #hunting-and-trapping, #rogan-joe, #roosevelt-theodore, #united-states-politics-and-government

Climate change is shifting polar bears’ Arctic menu, research shows

Polar bear (<em>Ursus maritimus</em>) standing upright on fjord ice at Sabinebukta Bay at Irminger Point on a summer morning.

Enlarge / Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) standing upright on fjord ice at Sabinebukta Bay at Irminger Point on a summer morning. (credit: Paul Souders / Getty Images)

The Arctic is warming three times faster than the rest of the world. Because of that warming, some organisms are adapting by shifting their natural stomping grounds, and the region is seeing some species move in as they follow the warmth north and stick around there for longer.

As such, the menu for polar bears is changing, according to a recently published paper. The research also suggests that studying fat tissue from polar bears—which can shed light on what prey they’ve been consuming—can be a useful tool in monitoring how species distribution in the Arctic is changing as temperatures increase and ice melts.

“The Arctic is changing. It is changing at a very rapid pace, especially in comparison to really any other region of the world. Temperatures are warming faster,” Melissa Galicia, a PhD candidate in York University’s department of biology and one of the authors of the paper, told Ars. “The ice is declining. Sea ice is becoming more fragmented. The water temperatures are warming. You’re getting an ecosystem that is changing rapidly, and all of the species within that ecosystem also need to adapt.”

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#arctic, #bears, #climate-change, #polar-bears, #science

Woman Jailed for Close Encounter With Grizzly and Cubs at Yellowstone

The woman was sentenced to four days in jail and was barred from the park for a year for not yielding space to the bear and three cubs.

#animals, #bears, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #yellowstone-national-park

Fat Bear Week Winner: Otis Takes Title for 4th Time

The brown bear was named the winner of the annual contest in which people vote for their favorite chunky bear at Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

#alaska, #bears, #fat-bear-week, #hibernation, #katmai-national-park-alaska, #weight

Three Men Are Charged With Approaching Bears in Alaska

The men could face up to six months in prison after entering a restricted area of Katmai National Park and Preserve in 2018.

#bears, #katmai-national-park-alaska, #national-park-service, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas

A Grizzly Bear Terrorized a Man for Days in Alaska. The Coast Guard Saw His SOS.

Down to his last rounds of ammunition, with bruises and a leg injury, the unidentified man was rescued by a helicopter crew that just happened by.

#alaska, #bears, #helicopters, #pilots, #rescues, #united-states-coast-guard

Grizzly Bear Suspected in Fatal Attack in Montana Is Killed

Wildlife officials believe the bear was the same grizzly that killed a California woman on Tuesday, given the proximity to the attack and evidence found at both scenes.

#animal-behavior, #bears, #california, #deaths-fatalities, #grizzly-bears, #leah-davis, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #wyoming

Woman Is Killed in Montana Bear Attack

A bear fatally attacked a camper in western Montana, the latest in a handful of serious incidents between humans and bears in the state.

#bears, #deaths-fatalities, #montana

Someone stabbed a cave bear in the head with a spear 35,000 years ago

Someone stabbed a cave bear in the head with a spear 35,000 years ago

Enlarge (credit: Gimranov et al. 2021)

During the last Ice Age, more than 100 cave bears died in Imanay Cave, a 100-meter-long corridor of stone in Russia’s southern Ural Mountains. The dead bears, along with a cave lion and a few other Pleistocene mammals, left behind nearly 10,000 bones, which have mostly worn down to small fragments over the millennia. Most of them were so-called small cave bears, Ursus spelaeus eremus, notable for being smaller than the so-called large cave bear, Ursus spelaeus—and for their apparent habit of dying en masse while hibernating through the harsh Pleistocene winters, leaving behind huge assemblages of bones for modern paleontologists to find.

Most of the cave bear bones found in Eurasia, including the ones at Imanay Cave, show no signs of violence, butchering, or gnawing. They seem to have died quietly, perhaps of cold, starvation, or illness. But while cleaning one cave bear skull from Imanay, Dmitry Gimranov of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and his colleagues noticed a rather suspicious hole in the parietal bone, near the back of the skull.

The lower edge of the hole is a gentle curve with a flattened base, while the upper edge is more uneven and widens sharply in the middle. Its shape is strikingly similar to the cross-section of stone projectile points unearthed in the same layer of cave sediment as most of the bear bones. Those points tend to have a flat ventral (or lower) side and a more curved dorsal (or upper) side with a sharp rib of stone sticking up along the center. And they’re about the same size as the hole in the bear skull.

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#ancient-people-did-stuff, #anthropology, #archaeology, #bears, #cave-bears, #hunter-gatherers, #ice-age, #pleistocene, #science, #zooarchaeology

The Bear Chased Us. Then We Chased the Bear.

When I was young and new in town, my next-door neighbor became my friend and protector.

#bears, #children-and-childhood, #love-emotion, #race-and-ethnicity

What Happened to My Beloved College Town?

Bozeman, Mont., has big-city problems, but it may not get big-city help.

#affordable-housing, #area-planning-and-renewal, #bears, #bozeman-mont, #great-falls-mont, #montana-state-university, #names-geographical, #population

Liechtenstein Royal Is Accused in Bear Killing in Romania

The unauthorized killing of a bear called Arthur in the Carpathian Mountains has set off a wave of anger in Romania.

#bears, #hunting-and-trapping, #romania, #royal-families

For Bears, California Recalls Are the Perfect Circus

A recall candidate hired a bear to draw attention to his campaign to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom, but the bear ended up drawing attention to the bear.

#animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #bears, #cox-john-h-1955, #elections-governors, #newsom-gavin, #sacramento-calif

Colorado Woman Killed in Apparent Bear Attack

Officials euthanized a grown female bear and two smaller bears that were found nearby. It was one of only a few fatal bear attacks ever recorded in the state.

#animals, #bears, #colorado, #dogs, #telluride-colo, #wildlife-services, #women-and-girls

Grizzly Bear Fatally Mauls a Backcountry Guide Near Yellowstone Park

When the bear charged at Montana officials who were investigating the attack, they shot and killed it.

#animal-behavior, #bears, #deaths-fatalities, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #fish-and-wildlife-service, #idaho, #montana, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores

Born to Be Lazy? What Bears Can Teach Us About Our Exercise Habits

Scientists have found that grizzlies, like people, seem to choose the path of least resistance.

#animal-behavior, #bears, #content-type-service, #exercise, #journal-of-experimental-biology, #navigation, #washington-state-university, #wilderness-areas, #yellowstone-national-park

In Montana, Bears and Wolves Become Part of the Culture Wars

The politics of predators seem poised to enter a new chapter in the state, which now seems intent on reviving some of the practices of a century ago that virtually exterminated wolves from Montana.

#bears, #daines-steve, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #gianforte-greg-1961, #hunting-and-trapping, #montana, #republican-party, #wolves

The Making of a ‘European Yellowstone’

A major conservation effort is underway in Romania. The goal is a new national park that will rival its American counterparts.

#bears, #forests-and-forestry, #hunting-and-trapping, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #travel-and-vacations, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #wolves

Arctic Seismic Work Will Not Hurt Polar Bears, Government Says

The announcement removes a major hurdle to approving a plan to hunt for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, part of a push to allow drilling there by the Trump administration.

#alaska, #arctic-national-wildlife-refuge, #bears, #drilling-and-boring, #environment, #federal-lands

Monster Wolf Robot Aims to Scare Bears in Japan

After bears kept venturing into the city in search of food, officials installed mechanical wolves with bared teeth, glowing red eyes and a fearsome screech to keep the animals away.

#bears, #japan, #robots-and-robotics, #wolves

To Scare Off Wild Bears, Japanese City Calls In the ‘Monster Wolf’

After bears kept venturing into the city in search of food, officials installed mechanical wolves with bared teeth, glowing red eyes and a fearsome screech to keep the animals away.

#bears, #japan, #robots-and-robotics, #wolves

Training Facial Recognition on Some New Furry Friends: Bears

In their spare time, two Silicon Valley developers aided conservationists in developing artificial intelligence to help keep track of individual bears.

#alaska, #artificial-intelligence, #bears, #british-columbia-canada, #computer-vision, #computers-and-the-internet, #conservation-of-resources, #ecology-and-evolution-journal, #facial-recognition-software, #katmai-national-park-alaska, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Here are the Best Animal Livestreams

Research shows that watching footage of them can make you happier, so here’s a list of round-the-clock camera footage that will bring koalas, penguins and puppies straight to your screen.

#animals, #aquariums, #bears, #computers-and-the-internet, #dogs, #elephants, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #monkeys-and-apes, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #san-diego-zoo, #smithsonian-national-zoological-park, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #wildlife-sanctuaries-and-nature-reserves, #zoos

The Fattest Bears in Alaska Want Your Vote

Each year, people vote for the heftiest brown bear at the Katmai National Park and Preserve during the Fat Bear Week contest.

#bears, #contests-and-prizes, #fat-bear-week, #hibernation, #katmai-national-park-alaska

California’s ‘Bear Whisperer’ Is Out of a Job

Steve Searles kept the bears in check in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., but quit his post after the coronavirus epidemic led to cuts in the town’s budget.

#bears, #budgets-and-budgeting, #california, #conservation-of-resources, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #mammoth-lakes-calif, #searles-steve, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Grizzly Bears Around Yellowstone Can Stay on Endangered Species List, Court Rules

The decision by a federal appeals court protects about 700 bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from being hunted.

#bears, #conservation-of-resources, #decisions-and-verdicts, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #environment, #fish-and-wildlife-service, #grand-teton-national-park-wyo, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #yellowstone-national-park

Spirit Bears’ Hair Helps Reveal New Genetic Secrets

First Nations peoples along British Columbia’s Central Coast led research to help preserve the area’s white-furred Spirit bears.

#bears, #british-columbia-canada, #eco-tourism, #fur, #genetics-and-heredity, #indigenous-people, #kitasoo-xaixais-first-nation, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

A Soft-Handed Predator Masquerading in Manliness

How we treat animals tells us something about how we treat one another.

#alaska, #animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #bears, #hunting-and-trapping, #trump-donald-j, #trump-donald-j-jr, #wolves

Trump Administration Undoes Rules That Restrict Bear Hunting in Alaska

The move reverses an Obama-era ban on hunting methods like baiting bears with doughnuts and shooting swimming caribou.

#animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #bears, #environment, #federal-lands, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #hunting-and-trapping, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #trump-donald-j, #trump-donald-j-jr, #united-states-politics-and-government

A Boy, a Bear and a Close Call in the Mountains of Italy

A 12-year-old knew what to do (and what not to) when he crossed paths with a large bear on a hike. A video of the encounter has gone viral.

#bears, #dolomite-mountains-italy, #hikes-and-hiking, #italy

Their Ring Bearer Was a Bear

Rita Janecek and Joseph Schaar, both animal lovers, had to call off a much-anticipated Alaskan wedding. Their new venue was about 5,000 miles away, at an animal sanctuary in Florida.

#bears, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #florida, #weddings-and-engagements