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Animals > Could wild bears be another canary in the coal mine

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message 1: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 2193 comments This is relatively new for black bears in northeastern US. Something is changing and it could be part of a much bigger change that is happening beneath our noses in a world we can't see but that can knock us off our feet. To think it is only happening to bears is unfortunate. Giving the animal world true respect might save our lives one day.

It could tie in with increased methane production around the world as microbes are able to increase their production due to better "living conditions" in the microbial environment we share with them. One of the articles does mention that suggestion.

"The answer might be that mites’ genes are mutating, creating a new variety that specializes in bears. Or it could be that climate change is altering the microhabitats that mites target on bears, making it easier for the parasite to survive, Machtinger said. Or maybe some shift in the mites’ microbiomes — the bacteria and fungi they rely upon to survive — has allowed the critters to better feast on black bears."

message 2: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
Devastating pictures.

message 3: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Here is a contrast; in Armenia which is mountainous, brown bears are captured from the wild and kept in cages by various places to lure tourists. A charity rescues them. Here is one such rescue; the male bear was the largest they have ever moved.

" The rescue effort to save them from neglect and abuse was carried out as part of the Great Bear Rescue – a larger campaign to free bears who are suffering as living attractions across the country that was launched last year. The effort is being led by International Animal Rescue (IAR) in partnership with local group the Federation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) with support from the government.

According to IAR, in this case, it took more than a year to secure the release of this pair who were being kept at a bus station in filthy, barren enclosures. "

message 4: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
More wild bears, this time polar bears waiting for sea ice to form so they can hunt seals.

"Until then, they represent a danger to the 900 people living in nearby Churchill - a remote, sub-Arctic town famous for the visiting carnivores.

The town is working on a plan to prevent conflicts between hungry bears and humans, using a new radar system that can watch and warn when a bear approaches - including at night or during a snowstorm.

"The radar can see through all of that," said Geoff York, senior conservation director at Polar Bears International who has been "training" the system's artificial intelligence this year to recognise bears on the tundra near Churchill.

"It's one more way to keep communities or camps safe."
"As climate change warms the Arctic faster than the rest of the world, the region has been drawing more tourists, at least until the coronavirus pandemic severely restricted travel.

With sea ice breaking up earlier and forming later, "we're seeing more bears on shore in more places and for longer time periods," Mr York said.

"We're setting up this perfect scenario for increased human-bear interaction and increased human-bear conflict. We're trying to get ahead of that.""

message 5: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
New York 2140
New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Contains a partly serious look at what will happen to the last remaining Arctic bears.

message 6: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Good news for bears.

"The Canadian government announced on Thursday that they’ll invest $1.43 million in the creation of an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) on a Hudson Bay island chain, to help protect the habitat for species at risk as well as other wildlife.

“We really appreciate the support of the government for this project, because it’s really important for our people, for the polar bears, for Canada and for everyone,” said Shaomik Inukpuk, the town manager of Inukjuak, a community in Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, that’s closest to the area.

“And once this area is established, I want everyone to keep it protected so there’s no disturbances,” Inukpuk said in a telephone interview."

message 7: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
There are so many canaries in the coal mine right now that the world has become blind.

message 8: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod

message 9: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 2193 comments I have recently come to the same conclusion, and I figure people have also joined the canary in the coal mine ranks. We might not be eating large chunks of visible plastic but we are eating and breathing the micro size plastic bits and chips that are every where and are the end result of every piece of unsecured plastic that breaks down in the world.

message 10: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
I used to think it was amphibians because of their sensitivity. But now it is strong creatures as well.

message 11: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 2193 comments There is a complete zone in trouble, our zone and the life we like, but there are many, many zones of life, that are just waiting to take over any space that gets freed up.

message 12: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod

"An electronic transmitter has been fitted to a young female bear which was ‘searching for easy food’ in villages of the Alto Sil area in Castilla y León region.

It is part of a conservation programme branded ‘a key tool’ to improve knowledge of Iberian brown bears.

A spokesman noted that they had carried out two years of research before launching the project, in which they aim to fit transmitters to 20 or 30 bears over the next four years."

message 14: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
This National Parks fun contest shows that when large brown bears are left well alone in good habitat, they thrive. Let's encourage this situation.

Giz has picked their winners already.

The official site.

"Fat Bear Week is a celebration of success and survival. It is a way to celebrate the resilience, adaptability and strength of Katmai’s brown bears. Bears are matched against each other in a “march madness” style competition and online visitors can vote who is ultimately crowned the Fat Bear Week 2021 Champion. Over the course of the week, virtual visitors learn more about the lives and histories of individual bears while also gaining a greater understanding of Katmai’s ecosystem through a series of live events hosted on

Cast your votes on September 29 through October 5 in this single elimination tournament. Voting closes at 5pm AKDT."

In particular, I love the slider images, in which we see the bears in July and again in September, some going from bony and hungry to plump and ready to hibernate.

Here are the cubs competing for Fat Bear Junior.

message 15: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
A lively books for kids showing a polar bear hero. The challenge of course, being climate change.

Nanook and the Melting Arctic
Nanook and the Melting Arctic (Time to Care, #2) by Ryan Mizzen

Well done Ryan Mizzen for making a massive and complex topic accessible to young readers.

Ryan Mizzen

message 16: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Polar bears! Go for it! Brilliant book. Written by the author of the wolverine thriller last year.

A Blizzard of Polar Bears
A Blizzard of Polar Bears (Alex Carter, #2) by Alice Henderson

message 17: by Clare (last edited Nov 29, 2021 02:50AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod

Polar bear seen hunting and dining off a reindeer on Svalbard. The suggestion is that with less sea ice, they can't find enough seals. Reindeer are not easy prey and are dangerous, unlike seals.

message 18: by Clare (last edited Jan 04, 2022 03:00AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Black bears can show us that eating processed foods full of sugars affects the health of the gut.

"measures of gut biodiversity were substantially lower in bears that had been eating more processed foods.
"Essentially, we found that the more human food black bears eat, and the longer they eat it, the less diverse their gut microbiomes," Gillman says"

More information: Sierra J Gillman et al, Human-provisioned foods reduce gut microbiome diversity in American black bears (Ursus americanus), Journal of Mammalogy (2021). DOI: 10.1093/jmammal/gyab154
Journal information: Journal of Mammalogy
Provided by North Carolina State University

message 19: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod

"An analysis of ancient DNA from a 100,000-year-old polar bear has revealed that extensive hybridization between polar bears and brown bears occurred during the last warm interglacial period in the Pleistocene, leaving a surprising amount of polar bear ancestry in the genomes of all living brown bears.

"As a result of this ancient admixture, polar bear ancestry accounts for as much as 10% of the genomes of brown bears living today. "We never would have seen this without Bruno's genome, because all living brown bears have that admixture as part of their genomes," Shapiro said.

Although polar bears and brown bears are distinct species with striking differences in appearance, behavior, and habitats, they are closely related and can readily hybridize when their ranges overlap. Reports of hybrids have increased in recent years as the climate warms and disappearing sea ice forces polar bears onto Arctic coastal areas, while brown bears expand their range northward.

Previous studies of ancient DNA have shown that admixture has occurred in certain populations of brown bears at least four different times between around 15,000 and 25,000 years ago. In all cases, the direction of gene flow was from polar bears into brown bears.

"The admixed individuals, if they survive, do so as brown bears, perhaps because they have difficulty hunting successfully on the sea ice if they are not completely white," Shapiro explained. "Polar bears have always been a small population with not much genetic diversity.""

More information: Beth Shapiro, A polar bear paleogenome reveals extensive ancient gene flow from polar bears into brown bears, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-022-01753-8.
Journal information: Nature Ecology & Evolution
Provided by University of California - Santa Cruz

message 20: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 2193 comments Reminds me of Neanderthals and modern day humans.

message 21: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Agree. And Denisovans.

message 22: by Robert (last edited Jun 19, 2022 09:14AM) (new)

Robert Zwilling | 2193 comments I wondered if polar bear genes were in all bears so I googled it. I found a similar article from 2012 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, covering the same time span, but it includes black bears as well as brown bears.

It also has a free multiple page summary, much more complete than the abstract, and a graph.

It seems to be saying that polar bears appeared out of nowhere 3.5 million years ago. I would have to read more articles to figure that out, of which there are plenty. There is one theory that polar bears arose from Irish bears that went far north into the Arctic regions around 100,00 to 150,000 years ago and went through genetic changes that resulted in polar bears. This number keeps getting pushed back farther in time. This is because it is hard to locate polar bear fossils due to climate conditions and locations. The PNAS graph appears to having polar bears going back 750,000 to 1 million years ago.

The article talks about environmental pressure from climate change. It looks like polar bears have been having troubles for 500,000 years. This could indicate that the polar regions are much more unstable than previously thought.

This is not to say that human activity participating in climate change has been minimal. Our recent contributions can be viewed as a violent end to a long running back and forth volley ball game where the game is ended by spiking the ball so severely that it explodes into a million pieces. The game can not be continued because there are no more volley balls.

message 23: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Wow! If polar bears are that old, they might have (or their earlier ancestors might have) migrated north to get away from the larger predator, the cave bear of Europe. Ireland would have been joined to Europe by a landbridge during the past Ice Ages. Indeed, the cave bear might be the reason a smaller bear migrated to the fringe of the continent. Like the puma evading the sabre toothed cats in America. Pumas lived higher and stayed smaller.

message 24: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 2193 comments Glacial ice supports a distinct and undocumented polar bear subpopulation persisting in late 21st-century sea-ice conditions

This could be the start of polar bears using what is available instead of what is traditional for them to survive. This might also bring them closer to land bears.

message 25: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Here is a lighter story.

"A disoriented brown bear cub, believed to have been intoxicated after eating an excessive amount of 'mad honey', has been rescued in northwestern Turkey's Duzce province."

message 26: by Clare (last edited Oct 12, 2022 01:56AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Nice nature notes from Shelley Munro
Shelley Munro

"Bears. As a New Zealander, I find them fascinating since we don’t have large native animals in our country. My husband and I did a bear-watching trip during our recent visit to Alaska. We watched three adult bears (two females and one male) fishing for salmon in a stream. One of the female bears had three cubs, which she’d sent up a tree for safety. Two baby bears stayed in the tree, but one adventurous spirit kept coming down and crying for mom. She’d growl at the baby, and the cub would climb back up. The speed at which they scaled the tree was impressive!"

Shelly writes shifter romances, in which bears and other creatures may be the second identity of the normal looking, if shaggy, people around you in the store.

Snared by Saber (Middlemarch Capture, #1) by Shelley Munro Catnap by Shelley Munro Claws and Paws A Limited Edition Bear Shifter Romance Collection by Skye MacKinnon

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