Bears as Predators ~ - Printable Version

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RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 07-24-2016

(07-23-2016, 10:02 PM)Polar Wrote: I am a bit confused as to what the accounts mean by "General". Do they mean the bear's name or the fight coordinator (a human)?

From post #129... Preparations for the first fights held in Sacramento in the summer of 1851 were noted by the German traveler Carl Meyer ( 1938 ): "A long grandstand was built at the mile-long race track in Brighton, six miles from the city. The entrance price was $2.50 and enormous placards on every street corner announced for weeks ahead the glorious fight between the American gray bear 'General Scott' and the Mexican bull 'Sant Anna.' " The bear was valued at $1,500. 
*Note: in Old Mexico, the bull-and-bear fights were purely for the traditional entertainment of the people. In Old California ( with many white settlers ) the exhibitions were mainly for profit. 

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - Polar - 07-24-2016

Where do you get all these books about animal fight arrangements held in early America? I want to further my reading on this topic.

It seems that most (if not all) of these human owners didn't care about the quality of health in the animals shown (i.e. Ramadan vs Parnell fight).

It would seem like the owners would want to maximally expand the animal's health for the chance to gain monetary/material profit from their win, but they really didn't seem to do so.

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 07-24-2016

California Grizzly by Tracy L. Storer and Lloyd P. Tevis Jr. - 1955.
One peculiarity of fights that entertained the miners is that, in contrast to most of the battles of earlier times, the bull usually was the victor, as well as being the favorite of the crowd. Newspaper accounts frequently carried such statements as "Bruin had little desire to fight, finally waked up a little, and after an hour was taked away considerably gored" ( Alta California, Sept. 9, 1851 ). To make the contests more nearly equal, the horns were sometimes sawed off before the bulls went into battle. 
Seemingly, then, the bears used during the American period often were inferior specimens endowed with less spirit and ferocity than the giants that had fought in Spanish and Mexican days. Very likely the miners shot the larger bears with rifles and trapped mainly small ones for the fights - possibly even black bears - whereas the Spanish vaqueros had roped the biggest and toughest grizzlies they could find. 
Meyer ( 1938 ), after observing fights in Saccramento, said that the bear was rarely the victor.

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 07-24-2016

Alfred T. Jackson, on Februrary 2, 1851, at Nevada City saw a big poster which said there was going to be "a grand fight between a ferocious grizzly bear and the champion fighting jackass of the State." The bear proved to be a black, which, on approaching its opponent, received "a couple of thundering kicks in the ribs." Whereupon the jackass returned to eating grass, and the bear went over the fence in two jumps and fled to the chaparral, scattering the crowd. ( Canfield, 1906 ). 
So great was the degradation of the fights that even tiny burros were pitted against bears: If the bear was a real grizzly, he always won, so far as I know,but the burro would worry him desperately for a long time. ( Bell, 1930 ).
*( in my own words )... about donkeys; they are tough little horse-relatives. Some people have learned to add a few donkeys in with other livestock as protection from predators. I read about a couple who bought a "llama farm" and, not understanding the need for donkeys among their llamas, they sold them. Next thing they knew, coyotes were killing the llamas. So, they purchased more donkeys. I'm not sure if the donkeys fight off such predators as coyotes or if it is their extremely loud "hee-haw" that scares predators away.

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 07-24-2016

Finally, somebody with a perverted sense of humor conceived the idea of letting hundreds of city rats loose into a well-closed arena, where they tormented the grizzly to distraction by swarming over him and crawling under his fur. Viewing this loathsome spectacle, Meyer ( 1938 ) commented that bear-and-bull fights had "passed through all stages, from the heroic to the lowest and the Yankees mocked the dignity of the bear  as they do that of a king."

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 07-24-2016

Inevitably a reaction set in against bear-and-bull fights or any form of staged battle between animals. The novelty to the Amaerican was wearing off, the popularity of the fights was diminishing, the proprietors of the bull pens and arenas were beginning to lose money, and newspapers were calling for enforcement of the law. As early as 1851 the Nevada City Journal editorialized about the bear-and-bull fight. 
On Februrary 24, 1852, the San Francisco Alta California, under the heading, "Sunday Barbarities at the Mission," called upon the authorities to interfere and prevent further continuance of the exhibitions known as "bull fights" or "bear baits," in this city and vicinity. These exhibitions are a disgrace to our city, to society, to our laws and to humanity. Offered as "amusements," they are a gross deception and imposition, and by the irreverent selection of the Sabbath day for their presentation they become a desecration. They are offensive to the tastes of a majority of our respectable citizens, and with their flaunting banners and bands of music paraded through our streets during the hours of religious service, they are a nuisance against which in behalf of the community we feel compelled to speak.

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 07-24-2016

As public feeling was aroused, laws were enforced and new ones were passed. And so in the late 50's and early 60's, the bear-and-bull fight, which had reached a higher stage of development in Spanish California than anywhere else, began to be legislated out of existence. In Sacramento the first step was to prohibit fights on Sunday to insure better observation of the Sabbath ( Thomas, 1856 ). In 1860 the young and booming city of Los Angeles passed an ordinance prohibiting them ( Cleland, 1941 ) - only twenty-five years after bearbaiting and bullbaiting had been outlawed in England by act of Parliament.
Despite these California enactments, some fights are of record in later years - 1868 and even 1881 - but the practice finally came to an end because of public opinion and the scarcity of grizzlies.

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 08-26-2016


RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 09-12-2016


Fewer cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake could be part of the reason that elk herds migrating out of the park are declining.

Two recently published studies conducted in Yellowstone National Park point to the connectivity between the decline of spawning cutthroat trout from Yellowstone Lake and a resulting shift in grizzly bear diets to elk calves.

“We were surprised to see this connection,” said Arthur Middleton, lead author of a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, in a telephone interview. The study was released Tuesday. Middleton wrote the article based on his doctoral dissertation at the University of Wyoming. He is now on a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University.

The shift in diet has reduced elk calf recruitment by 4 to 16 percent, Middleton postulated, and has hindered the population growth of migratory elk herds that use the Yellowstone Lake area by 2 to 11 percent. 
“It might be worth adding that we don’t think this is the answer to where the elk calves went, but it’s something we should think about with changes in bear diets and the change in elk calf numbers,” he said.

Other perspective

The studies' conclusions are no surprise to David Mattson, a U.S. Geological Survey wildlife biologist who spent 14 years studying grizzly bear foraging and diets in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

"I think it highlights what should be the obvious for any observer of Yellowstone, that it's a complex system," he said. "And grizzly bears are kind of the consummate connector of all of the species in that system."

Mattson said during his years studying bears in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, it was a time of an enriched ecosystem with large herds of elk, bison and plentiful cutthroat trout. 

"All of that's reversed," he said. "We're watching probably the first state of impoverishment in the ecosystem as far as grizzly bears are concerned."

Other study 
Middleton was helped in linking the aquatic and terrestrial food webs by a study authored by Jennifer Fortin of Washington State University that detailed the diets of 27 GPS-collared bears in Yellowstone. Fortin’s study was published in February in the Journal of Wildlife Management. She worked with fellow WSU student Charles Robbins tracking the bears and analyzing their scat.

Her study showed a 70 to 95 percent decline in trout consumed by grizzly and black bears between 1997 and 2009. The study also found that grizzly bears killed an elk calf every two to four days in June while black bears killed an elk calf every four to eight days. 

“They’re the ones who did the really detailed studies following grizzly bears around and studying what they ate to drill into bear diets,” Middleton said. “Without their work we wouldn’t have arrived where we did.”

Possibly only in Yellowstone could such a connection be established by data. That’s because there’s a rich source of current and past studies on everything from the Yellowstone cutthroat trout’s precipitous decline by 90 percent since predacious lake trout were illegally introduced, to cow elk pregnancy rates and cow-to-calf ratios for migratory elk herds in the park.

“I was really synthesizing these studies,” Middleton said. “An important part of what I did with the co-author (Thomas Morrison) was to pull together studies on bear diets and elk populations and as we did we saw evidence for links.” 

Looking at the numbers gives credence to what seems only logical: once cutthroat trout numbers declined, bears that were eating those fish had to supplement their diet with some other food source. Elk calves just happened to be available.

To understand the effect of the trout decline on fish-eating bears, consider this: Clear Creek, one of 124 tributaries to Yellowstone Lake used for spawning, saw a migration of more than 54,000 cutthroat trout in 1988. By 2007, that number had plummeted to just over 500 fish. Although nonnative lake trout have been blamed for most of the decline, cutthroat also suffered through drought, which dewatered some of the spawning streams, and infection by whirling disease. 
Like cutthroat trout, Yellowstone’s northern range elk herd has also seen a significant population decline. In 1988, the elk population hit 19,000. This winter the herd was estimated at just over 3,900 animals. The elk have also suffered from drought, increasing infection from the disease brucellosis, hunting pressure, the reintroduction of wolves that mainly eat elk and an increase in the number of other predators, including bears and cougars. Although 80 percent of the northern range’s cow elk are getting pregnant, according to aerial surveys conducted in July and August near Yellowstone Lake, only 10 percent of the cows still had calves.


One study cited by Middleton estimated that 68 grizzly bears – roughly 14 to 21 percent of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s population – relied on cutthroat trout as part of their spring diet. The fish spawn between mid-May and early August. 

It was estimated that grizzly bears that dined on cutthroat trout ate more than 7,800 fish during the spawning season – more than 12,400 pounds. With the fish’s decline, that amount dropped to about 300 fish a year, or about 690 pounds. With elk calves weighing an estimated 39 pounds, grizzly bears would have to eat almost 300 elk calves to supplement the loss of those 7,500 cutthroat trout, Middleton estimated.

Another study estimated the elk calf predation by bears rose from 12 percent in the late 1980s to 41 percent by the mid-2000s.

Middleton’s paper notes that because grizzly bears are only one of 28 species that are believed to have depended on spawning cutthroat trout, “the broader ecological consequences of lake trout invasion are potentially tremendous.”

“It’s worthwhile to emphasize the uncertainty of what the size of the effect might be,” Middleton said.

Worth noting 

The paper argues that the findings are relevant to wolf management plans for the states that surround Yellowstone National Park – Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. The migratory nature of elk from Yellowstone into the surrounding states may indicate that “elk calf recruitment may not be as sensitive to wolf removal on some outlying winter ranges as to the number of grizzly bears and the availability of alternative grizzly bear foods on elk summer ranges in and around YNP.”

Middleton said his study is a “surprising connection and one that goes back to some fisherman’s decision that it was important” to illegally introduce lake trout into Yellowstone Lake. If lake trout can be suppressed through the park’s efforts to net adults and kill the eggs they have laid – an effort that began in 1998 -- perhaps the cutthroat trout can rebound and once again benefit the other animals of the ecosystem, including elk, Middleton said.

The other lesson, he noted, is that “perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to compartmentalize fish and wildlife management. They may seem separate, but they are more closely linked than we thought. Yellowstone National Park has long known that, but it’s been slow to enter the popular realm.”

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 11-03-2016

Grizzly in pursuit of a bull moose.

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 11-24-2016

Parvez says: Gaur is the biggest wild bison on the planet. Getting beaten by gaur is not a shame. They are around 10 times(or even more) bigger than sloth bear. I definitely feel he should have atleast tried to harm the gaur. But brown bears are probably the biggest of the bears along with polar bears and the N.American bison surely must not be more than twice as big as brown bears. So, it is impressive but not as impressive as sloth bear nastily confronting a bigger tiger that must be around twice as big as him. 
The barren ground grizzly has been known to attack and kill full-grown musk oxen; triple the bears weight. Stop this grizzly vs sloth bear argument - or show me what the sloth bear kills. Also, grizzlies have been known to kill adult bison ( a gaur is not a bison - more closely related to the yak ). A grizzly will supplement his diet of meat and vegetation with brood insects; ants and termites are the staple-food of sloth bears, which never hunt and only rarely eat carrion. Your arguement simple does not hold water. 

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 11-25-2016

Parvez says - I definitely feel he should have atleast tried to harm the gaur. 
No; bears are seldom that foolish. If the sloth bear had slashed the gaur, the huge bovine would surly have killed him.
According to historical events told; grizzlies have been known to kill bull bison ( perhaps double their weight ). In the Himalayan Mountains, grizzlies have reportedly killed yak ( I have found no such reports ). 

American bison

Body Length: up to 380 cm / 12.5 ft 

Shoulder Height: up to 195 cm / 6.5 ft. 

Tail Length: 90 cm / 3 ft. 

Weight: 545-818 kg / 1200-1800 lb. 


Body Length: 250-330 cm / 8.3-11 ft. 

Shoulder Height: 170-220 cm / 5.6-7.2 ft. 

Tail Length: 70-100 cm / 28-40 in. 

Weight: 700-1000 kg / 1540-2200 lb.


Body Length: Up to 325 cm / 10.8 ft. 

Shoulder Height: Up to 200 cm / 6.6 ft. 

Tail Length: 60 cm / 24 in. 

Weight: 305-820 kg / 670-1805 lb.

Musk ox 

Body Length: 200-245 cm / 6.6-8.1 ft. 

Shoulder Height: 125-135 cm / 4.1-4.5 ft. 

Tail Length: 10-14 cm / 4-5.6 in. 
Weight: 180-380 kg / 396-836 lb.

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 11-25-2016

The Grizzly Bear, The Narrative of a Hunter-Naturalist by William H. Wright.
Grizzlies have jaws like iron. In and about old Indian camps, where the old leg and thigh bones of elk and moose have been left, I have seen these crushed into fragments, and even ground into particles, by the vice-like jaws of these bears; this, of course, for the marrow that was to be found in them. Many think that the grizzly is a habitual hunter and killer of wild game; and in certain localities, and in times past, this may possibly have been true. This we will discuss farther on. I have never, however, in all my experience, except the little fellows before mentioned, that I have any reason to think had been killed by a grizzly.
That the grizzly can, and that easily, kill an elk or a moose, there is no sort of doubt. Nor do I deny that such killings have taken place. But I am firmly persuaded that he never attempts it unless it be in cases of emergency or where some exceptional circumstances lead to it. Should a grizzly happen, for example, to be near a water lick where these animals come to drink, he might, in one of his impatient rushes, strike down one of them, but the animals that might be destroyed in this way are a negligible quantity.

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 11-25-2016

The Grizzly, Narrative of a Hunter-Naturalist by William H. Wright.
His Fierceness. We now arrive at a division of our subject where we are to meet what, at first sight, appears to be a tangle of contradictory evidence, and it behooves us to walk slowly, to preserve an open mind, and to keep our eyes carefully attentive to the signs of the trail. On the one hand, we shall find the sincere convictions and repeated statements of early writers, and a century of unquestioning belief on the part of the public. On the other, we shall find the calmer judgments of trained observers, and the overwhelming weight of contemporaneous experience. Were our fathers wrong about the nature of the grizzly? Or has the animal radically changed in a hundred years? 
Personally, I believe that we have to answer "Yes" to both questions; but I am convinced that the amount of alteration in the nature of the grizzly is insignificant compared to the extent to which preconceptions of early hunters colored their judgment. 
Let me say, to begin with, that twenty-five years of intercourse with these beasts has taught me to regard them with the most profound respect. I would no more provoke one, unarmed, or rashly venture upon any action that my experience has taught me they regard as calling for self-defense, than I would commit suicide. That they will not fight when they think they have to, no sane man would maintain. That, when they do fight, they are not the most formidable and doughty of antagonists, I have never heard hinted. But that they habitually seek trouble when they can avoid it, or that they ever did, I do not believe. Nor, in the authentic records upon which this popular belief is largely founded, and in which it was first put into words, can we find any facts calculated to uphold it.

RE: Bears as Predators ~ - brotherbear - 11-25-2016

Although brown bears (Ursus arctos) are known to be major predators of ungulates in North America and Northern Europe, there is little documentation regarding bear predation on wild ungulates in Southern Europe. We describe search, detection, killing and prey consumption behaviour by brown bears during seven attacks on <1-month roe deer, red deer and chamois fawns in spring in the Cantabrian Mountains, north-western Spain. As soon as the bears detected a fawn by their smell or their mother's presence, they switched from routine foraging on plants and insects to an intensive search for the fawns, mainly using smell to comb a 0.5–1 ha area for 15–45 min. They killed the fawns either while the latter were resting or after a brief chase. The bears usually took their prey to dense vegetation, consuming it immediately. In four cases, 5-month-old cubs accompanying the female did not participate in the hunt. We also document the apparently non-predatory killing of a 40-kg wild boar by a female bear with cubs surprised by a sudden encounter. They did not eat the boar after the attack.