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Hungry, Exhausted, Only Half Their Normal Weight: Tragedy for Black Bears in Eastern Russia

Saturday, April 15, 2017 18:33
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Desdemona Despair


27 March 2017 (The Siberian Times) – The Asiatic black bear is facing catastrophe in areas of eastern Russia, a leading scientist has warned. A short video highlights a bear, also known as Himalayan, climbing a tree in a snowy November.

What’s unusual about that? By now, this bear should have been hibernating for several weeks or longer.

Dr Sergey Kolchin told The Siberbian Times: “For the last two years extremely hard conditions developed in Khabarovsk region for wild animals that depend on Korean pine and Mongolian oak for their food.

“In 2015, across almost the entire area of cedar broad-leaf forests there was a simultaneous bad harvest of nuts and acorns, in Khabarovsk and Primorsky regions.

“In 2016 this was repeated in Khabarovsk region. The lack of autumn food for two years in a row is an abnormal phenomenon which has turned into  tragedy for the black bear.”

The animals missed their key feeding periods for two years in succession. Too hungry to hibernate, they became exposed to the harsh cold – and resulting diseases.

It is the first time in the history of  observations of these Asiatic bears in Russia that “exhausted” animals have failed to hibernate, and this applies to adults and cubs. […]

An emaciated Asiatic black bear in eastern Russia. Logging and global warming have been blamed for bear population declines in 2015 and 2016. Photo: Sergey Kolchin / Priamurye Nature Reserve

“The bears that managed to accumulate some strength and survive in autumn and hibernate, began to wake up earlier than usual – in the middle of February.

“By that time, the organism had completely exhausted its resource. The probability is that some will not survive the spring.” […]

Significantly, in Bikin national park – protected from logging – the most numerous population of black bears is thriving. There was a reduced harvest of nuts and acorns, but sufficient for survival, say experts.

“The bears  hibernated in time,” said Dr Kolchin. “We did not observe here animals that failed to hibernate, or were exhausted, or died of hunger during the winter.” [more]

Hungry, exhausted, only half their normal weight: Tragedy for black bears


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