Saturday, August 20, 2016

Understanding the Facts of Bear Hibernation

Bear tours are restricted to times of the year when the animals are not in hibernation. But why and when do bears hibernate? Read on for more.

Most people heading off on bear tours to either Europe or Canada choose this kind of wildlife holiday because they have an existing fascination with these wonderful creatures. Indeed, they really are interesting animals, with intriguing and somewhat complex behaviours. Hibernation is one part of their existence that always proves a popular topic among wildlife enthusiasts.

If you have booked on to one of the range of organised bear tours, you will no doubt be travelling at a time when animals are no longer in hibernation, as you would be unlikely to see any otherwise. But what is hibernation, really, and why do these animals spend months in a deep slumber surviving with no sustenance at all?

Why do Bears Hibernate?

Bears hibernate through pure necessity. Conditions in their habitat can be harsh and, particularly in winter, the animals find it very hard to function efficiently when food is often scarce and temperatures plummet. It is therefore easier and more effective for them to become dormant and sleep through the hard times, thus conserving energy and staying warm. During hibernation their metabolism slows down and fat reserves are used up at a slow and steady rate. They eat and drink nothing when they hibernate and therefore do not need to eliminate waste either.

What About in Captivity?

If you don't get the opportunity to go on any of the fantastic bear tours available, you can always visit a zoo to observe the animals up close and personal. While it’s nowhere near the same experience, bears in captivity do not need to hibernate so you can usually observe them at any time. Food is plentiful, as is water, so therefore the animals do not need to become dormant to survive. They may, however, simply through an evolutionary mechanism, slow down in the wintertime and become more listless and eat less. A bear in captivity displays much the same behaviour as one in the wild and so, due to instinct, it will often sleep during the day. Pregnant bears in captivity usually still hibernate as a way of conserving energy for their offspring.

How Long do they Hibernate?

Hibernation begins in October and comes to an end sometime in April or May. Spring brings with it new growth and a plentiful supply of nutrient-rich food sources, which encourages the reflex to awaken and replenish their reserves.

If you embark on one of the excellent bear tours run by a reputable and experienced wildlife travel company, the trip will be led by an expert guide well versed in the animals' behaviour and their yearly (and daily) cycles. You'll be able to gain a fascinating insight into these wonderful creatures.


About the Author

Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer. If you’re looking for the best bear tours, Naturetrek specialises in expert-led natural history and wildlife tours worldwide. Naturetrek brings over 25 years of experience to polar expeditions and tours to other spectacular regions on Earth.

Friday, August 19, 2016

How to Tell if a Bear is in the Local Area

When exploring bear habitat on a specialised tour, it's helpful to know how recently a bear has been in the area. Here are some clues to look out for.

If you are going on a specialised bear watching holiday, you may be wondering how may animals you'll see, how you will spot them, and how you will know if they are in the local area. If you're travelling with a reputable company you will have a guide with you who is an expert in the bear habitat and its behaviour, but it may be helpful for you to know just what they're looking out for.

Looking for Clues

The first thing to do is to watch out for giveaway clues as to their presence in the area. Obviously, in prime bear habitat areas there will plenty of tracks to tell you if and when an animal has passed through. The fact that there are any tracks at all alerts you to its presence and the freshness of the tracks can tells you how recently it was there.

Another key indicator of their presence is their 'scat' (droppings). By looking at the scat, you can see what the animal has been eating.

Evidence of Digging

Grizzly Bears are known to dig frequently, and if you come across a dig site you will know that one has been in the area - and perhaps still is. Some diggings can be huge, as they will often dig repeatedly in the same place. If you examine the dirt that has been dug up you will be able to establish how recently they have been there. Checking the plants underneath the excavated dirt to see if they are still alive can help determine the timing of their last visit.

Other Signs

If you are hiking through bear habitat on foot you can also keep an eye out for a gathering of crows or ravens in the sky, as this can signify that there is a carcass close by - and possibly a bear (or two or three) enjoying a good feed. Take note of the smell in the air too, as a new carcass can often reek.

Bear habitat is often riddled with trees that have been bitten, rubbed or scraped by the animals marking their territory. Some mark the same trees repeatedly, but often several different animals will mark a tree. They also climb trees so look out for claw marks in the trunks.

One last important thing to look out for is to consider the trail you're on. Bears, like humans, use the same trails over and over again, so they become very marked. The difference between a bear trail and a human one is that the animal's one will be much lower. If you find yourself navigating a fairly well beaten trail but have to duck down frequentlyBusiness Management Articles, it's a reasonable sign it is one also used by something other than humans!


About the Author


Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer. If you’re looking for a tour to visit bear habitat, Naturetrek specialises in expert-led natural history and wildlife tours worldwide. Naturetrek brings over 25 years of experience to polar expeditions and tours to other spectacular regions on Earth.

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Polar Bear's Fight to Survive

According to most evidence gathered by researchers and scientists everywhere, the phenomenon known as global warming is quickly killing off most polar bears. This is not some shaky sort of story either, something built upon an edifice of stilts and other various things and not supportable like objects.

No, according to The Wall Street Journal, these bears are in fact drowning in their own native oceans because of this menace known as global warming. Polar bear drowning used to be so rare that it was rarely at all observed and almost never at all reported. Government agencies are not quick to comment on what might be the cause of the growing climatic and ecological changes.

One does not really need to see much more than the floating dead bodies of polar bears to gain a keen insight into the effect that climatic change is having upon the environment as a whole. Environmentalists who have studied the problem have indicated that government policies towards oil and energy resources have instigated or at least contributed to the deaths of polar bears. Since polar bears have evolved to the point of only hunting on ice and other cold regions, scientists predict that they will go extinct within the next one hundred years, if not sooner.

With less ground to hunt on, they have a smaller source of food to support their populations and thus they will soon die out. There have been so many tragic photographs taken of polar bears clinging desperately to little ice floes that they must call home, that many people desire to do something.

Since the polar bear is designed by nature with not only one but two layers of fur, it is able to survive extremely cold conditions. In fact, they can survive conditions nearing fifty below Fahrenheit - which is exactly why global warming will have such a terrible effect on this beloved species. Their entire body, from their ears to their tails to their manner of hunting is entirely dependent on cold climatic conditions. If everything continues on in the manner predicted by most scientists, then the polar bears may hold no hope. Government agencies are as of now debating heatedly to discuss whether or not to put polar bears on the endangered species list.

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A Bear Has Poor Eyesight

At Mole Harbor we found evidence that the bears had caught beaver. And then there it was, about one hundred yards beyond our stranded canoe, and a quarter of a mile away from them, a medium-sized grizzly walking boldly out onto the beach. We decided to stalk him, as the wind, for once, was right. A bear has poor eyesight and might even mistake the three people for another bear. We crouched low, hunched our heads over, and moved in single file behind the guide, so that the bear could never see more than one form approaching.

Like a gang of convicts we went, in lock step, toward the unsuspecting mammal, first crunching over the mud and mussels, then splashing through the shallow water. At last the bear lifted his head and looked. Then he continued to waddle slowly toward the channel where the salmon splashed. Not until we were within one hundred yards did he stop to consider. Still the procession kept on, never changing its gait. The bear sat down and scratched himself to appear unconcerned, but it was plain he was puzzled. What was the steadily advancing bulk?

Fear seized him when about eighty yards intervened, and he started for shore on a dead run. Water splashed in all directions beneath his flying paws. We raised cameras and began to shoot. The bear hesitated, doubled his speed, then he stopped again. By this time he was over two hundred yards away, and the camera hunters lowered their cameras with satisfied feelings. It had been a good picture, with plenty of action—the best of the trip. Suddenly, without warning, the bear changed his mind. He would not be out-bluffed by this queer-acting thing. He'd show it, he would!

On a dead run he went back toward the channel, the water flying beneath him as he galloped. At his goal he raised himself on his hind legs to look out on the bay. He'd let this unusual enemy see what a big bear he was! Then he dropped down on all fours and prepared to fish for salmon, but all the time he kept one eye cocked around to see how this maneuver was working. The humans stood still. They did not seem impressed. This was just too much! The grizzly flung around. He stood up again to show his fighting strength. Then he charged. The guide aimed his gun, we our cameras. With terrific speed the bear came, snarling as he rushed. Then it was that the guide's cool voice turned the charge of victory into ignominious defeat with the command: “Stop that, boy! Stop it! Stop it quick!”

And it worked. The bear stopped, confused, turned, and raced off. And we turnedFree Web Content, happy with our photo-trophies.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

An Introduction to the Grizzly Bear

If you're heading off on a bear watching tour in Canada, you should arm yourself with as much information as possible before you go. Although an expert guide will accompany you on the bear watching tour, having some basic facts at your disposal is always a good idea.

Introducing the Grizzly Bear

The Grizzly is actually a subspecies of the Brown Bear, which populates the west of Canada and the north west of the United States. It stands as tall as 2.5 metres and a fully-grown male adult can weigh 360kg.

Sustenance to Live

These animals have very cleverly adapted to their environment, and throughout the changing seasons their behaviour changes to accommodate the conditions. In the warmer months, they eat plenty to stock up their body’s supply of fat so throughout the winter, when they are hibernating, they will have enough energy to survive. A daily feed may equal up to 40kg of food and lead to a weight gain of 1kg over 24 hours. What is most interesting is that they actually get most of their nutrition not from huge amounts of meat, but from nuts, fruit, leaves, insects, and roots. Small animals, such as sheep and rodents as well as fish also make up a small part of their diet. When food is scarcer, they will dig into the ground with their long claws and make good use of their strong shoulder muscles and you may see evidence of this throughout the duration of your bear watching tours.

Shelter for Hibernation

The bears inhabit their dens during the winter months and fall into a deep sleep in order to conserve as much energy as possible to see them through. Their heart rate slows down to just eight beats per minute, and if a female is pregnant during this time, she can even give birth in her sleep.

Skills for Survival

These animals have huge physical and mental strength. They are intelligent, have good memories, and their sense of smell is so good they can detect food from quite a distance away. They also run fast and can swim very well and the young can also climb trees.

Grizzly Bears are, unfortunately, on the threatened wildlife list. Despite being so powerfully equipped, they are no match for the threat incurred from humans. With increased logging encroaching on their habitat and coming into conflict with humans through no fault of their own, their survival is in jeopardy. However, much is currently being done to try to reverse these negative effectsPsychology Articles, and bear watching tours are an excellent way to raise awareness and educate people with regards to their plight.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer. If you’re looking for bear watching holidays, Naturetrek specialises in expert-led natural history and wildlife tours worldwide. Naturetrek brings over 25 years of experience to polar expeditions and tours to other spectacular regions on Earth.