Grizzly Details: Salmon Collapse Could Be Bad News for Bears [Slide Show]
Scientists are collecting hairs from live bears to prevent population declines as a result of decreases in a principal food source: salmon
Credits: © Larry Travis
FAT CHANCE This large female grizzly was photographed outside of the town of Bella Bella, which is situated along British Columbia's central coast. Female grizzlies won't implant their fertilized eggs until they have accumulated sufficient body fat before going into hibernation. The more salmon that female grizzly bears eat, the higher their odds of having twin cubs.
HAIR OF THE BEAR Here, a black bear is caught on camera checking out what all the stinky fuss is about.
CATCH AND SNIFF A cougar is caught by an infrared camera set up at one of
the hair-snagging stations while investigating the stink sauce. The barbed wire to collect the bear's hair is visible in the foreground. www.raincoast.org
WHERE'S THE FAT? Grizzlies aren't as much interested in the protein in salmon as in the fat, which fuels their high-energy winter hibernation. "If you don't have enough fat going into a den, you will starve to death in the den or come out early and see if you can find something to eat in winter," Gilbert says.
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GRIZZLY GLUTTONY Grizzly bears have perfected the art of hyperphagia, another word for overeating. "I've seen one bear catch and eat most of 23 salmon in an hour and 29 minutes," says Barrie Gilbert, a retired wildlife biologist from Utah State University in Logan. And that bear will go on to feed for 10 hours at a time. Here, before and after photos of grizzlies in Alaska's Brooks Range show just how much weight they pack on in the months leading up to hibernation.