USE OF PHOTO KITS TO GET TO KNOW FEEDING HABITS OF BROWN BEAR IN THE CANTABRIAN RANGE FUND FOR THE PROTECTION OF WILD LIFE www.fapas.es FAPAS activities to monitor Brown Bear population rely on CAJAMADRID Social Programs (Obra Social Caja Madrid)
We know Brown Bear feeding habits is very varied, adapted to requirements and needs of an exigent species in certain aspects of its life. Bear’s survival is more sensitive in some moments. Possibly, it is critical at emancipation time of young bears. Use of automatic photo kits by FAPAS has already allowed to detect some bad physical conditions among bear population and we get to think that, even though breeding results in the West Cantabric population is good, it is not as it might be. Cubs have an important death-roll during youth when feeding plays a leading role. FAPAS activities by means of new long-powered digital photo kits allows to get to know better Bear’s behaviour and feeding habits During one month, a photo kit took some unpublished pictures, evidencing how a cub makes use of a carcass in the countryside and during this time we found out how it uses it a carcass to feed. DAY 1 MONITORING In wildness, carrion coming from either domestic or wild cattle is a very important resource for the whole of the animals into an ecosystem. Wild fauna that makes use of it, comes into the carcass step by step. At first, attracted by flies smell, but first large-size animals finding out the carcass are ravens, whose shouts alert the rest of wild life that there’s food in the forest.
1st TIME BEAR COMES INTO CARRION Bear finds the carcass but it does not seem to need much. Its first reaction is as it tried to recognise it, smelling it out and checking out what actually is. In this picture, we can see bear puts its muzzle under the carcass. What is it searching or smelling?
2nd TIME BEAR COMES INTO CARRION During the second time bear comes into the carcass, it keeps checking it out, but at last we see it decides to come up to carcass and to feed on it.
By looking in pictures taking before, we realise there is a hole in the carcass, done by ravens biting the fur of the animal. 3rd TIME BEAR COMES INTO CARRION It seems habits is always the same. At first, bear checks out carcass and the gets into it to smell, but…it seems it always gets into the same part of dead animal, what brings bear here?
4ª VISITA DEL OSO New digital kits are quite sensitive to light. They can shot with flash or just by means of infra-red capturing-light system. This is the reason why some shots are brighter It should be logical to think that bear will make use of the big amount of flesh disposable, but we can check that what actually bear does is to check out the sourroundings of the carcass and then to put the muzzle into the hole ravens did. It is feeding on grubs appearing as a consequence of the descomposition process.
5th TIME BEAR COMES INTO CARRION It starts raining It is still checking out the carcass. We don’t get any picture of bear biting, tearing the fur and feeding on the flesh, what we have already noticed through monitoring carrion compsumtion by bears. It’s some days since the cub found the carcass and we can notice the hole ravens did to bite inside it. Apart from this, we can see a decrease in the volume of the carcass, as a result of descomposition of organic material inside the pelt.
6th TIME BEAR COMES INTO CARRION Today, it seems the bear awoke hungry; it is checking the surroundings but soon it starts feeding on grubs that get out from the carcass by a hole in the fur. The bear moves up, we see how the fur folds, the inner is emptier and emptier. The bear starts smelling out branchs of closer trees
7th TIME BEAR COMES INTO CARRION In the second of the pictures, we see the cub tearing the fur for first time. Then, the rest of the pictures gets the instants when, as it has been doing, it licks the carcass fur feeding on the grubs born inside it.
8th TIME BEAR COMES INTO CARRION But feeding is not the only Bear activity. Smelling out is a basic part of many wild animals habits. Scrubbing with carrion and close scrub is part of a well-known behaviour; this series of pictures shows us this behaviour.
9th TIME BEAR COMES INTO CARRION It is nearly one month since the cub found the carrion and it is feeding on it. The carcass is no more than the skeleton and fur covering it. It’s time to tear apart the fur and make use of remains inside.
Use of digital photo kits allowed us to find out and get to know better some aspects of bears biology without annoying their behaviour. At the end of this piece of work, Alfonso checks out the remains of carrion and sourroundings where bear moved along. It is noticeable that bears make intensively use of these resources that, in spite of coming from domestic cattle, have been along centuries an important part of Bear nourishment. Feeding on worms and not on flesh as it might be assumed, evidences Bear capabilities to feed, making best use of resources they find in wildness, as it is well known that worms have more proteins than flesh.
More information about Project of Photographic Monitoring of Brown Bear Population in Cantabrian Range in www.fapas.es http://video.alisys.net/cajamadrid/obrasocial/osos/index.html FAPAS, Fondo para la Protección de los Animales Salvajes Las Escuelas s/n. 33509 La Pereda de Llanes ASTURIAS Tel. 985401264 email@example.com www.fapas.es Funding: