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Bears as Predators ~

India brotherbear Offline
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#16
( This post was last modified: 01-14-2016, 06:52 AM by brotherbear )

Man Meets Grizzly by Young and Beyers.
Most competent writers on the grizzly agree that he is seldom the aggressor, but when wounded, closely pressed, or surprised, he becomes a juggernaut, springing to kill with all his power. There are various views on just how the grizzly attacks his foe. Some say the bear strikes for the face or head and bites the foe in these areas. Others state that the bear will hold the victim with one arm, while clawing and striking with the other and biting at the same time. W.H. Wright says he never saw a grizzly attack in an upright position or open his mouth as he charged. There may be exceptions to this, as in the instance of Old Ephraim. The standing bear probably assumes that position in order to better investigate a situation. There are reports of bears hugging and biting, or striking at the side of the head and biting when they can get a hold. There are enough stories of unfortunate men whose faces have been disfigured in this manner to support the idea that the head is a favorite target for the bear.
Yet I was much bothered on this point because of the conflicting opinions held by those who should know, until a young naturalist at Yellowstone Park, Lowell Biddulph, enlightened me. While he was on an observation trip in early spring, when there was still considerable snow on the ground, he used as headquarters a cabin near Dunraven Pass; it was built on a hillside with a window on the downhill side. He was in the custom of throwing table scraps out of the window. On an evening of full moonlight, when he could see clearly, a large grizzly bear came to eat the food. It was soon joined by another large grizzly. They began to quarrel over the food. Both rose on their hind legs and struck each other on the head, bit at the face and neck, and threw arms around each other and hugged and bit at each other's throat.

This account convinces me that a grizzly bear will use whatever means he can employ to best his antagonist and will, upon occasion, hug. To do this he stands. The strength of the bear's arms makes a very effective vise. Some of the most serious wounds hunters receive were made by a bear reaching up with his hind foot and tearing clothes and flesh from the victim, who was held by the bear's forearms. A curious thing about wounds inflicted by bears, which Hornaday and others have noted, is that bear bites and scratches almost never produce blood poisoning. Inquiry among hunters and park rangers, as well as doctors, supports this statement. This is strange, for the same kinds of wounds from wolves or lions frequently result in blood poisoning; it is all the more remarkable because bears like to scavenge garbage and stale meat, carrion even, and they dig and scratch in the dirt.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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India brotherbear Offline
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#17
( This post was last modified: 01-14-2016, 04:19 PM by brotherbear )

Here is yet another account of a grizzly administering a "bear hug" ... from Man Meets Grizzly by Young and Beyers.
The next moment a growl, so deep and fierce that it echoed through the cave, startled me to my feet; and I turned to find myself closely confronted by an enormous grizzly bear, the most fearful animal of the American wilds. How ferociously his eyes glared on me from under his shaggy brows, as he opened them from the new-fallen sleep, which the warm beams of my fire had dispelled, and how convulsively his huge jaws worked and quivered in eager longing to devour me! Ere I had time to snatch the revolver from my belt the gigantic beast rose toweringly above me, and opening his enormous paws, pressed me to him in close embrace - so close that my arms were pinned to my sides, and my very bones seemed to crack in that viselike hug. I believe I screamed with the sudden agony, but the sound was lost in the deep-mouthed growls, like muttering thunder, that filled the cave.

Weak and exhausted as I was, I felt myself unequal to cope with the powerful beast in whose grasp I was; but even if life were of little worth, to a solitary such as I, this mode of death was so horrible, that it nerved me to efforts beyond my ordinary strength, and somehow my hand managed to creep up towards my belt. But ere I could reach the weapon I sought, a movement of the bear had loosened it, and firing a single barrel, it fell to the ground among our feet. The report echoing through the cave alarmed my adversary; and with a more threatening growl, he clasped me closer, and for the first time his claws penetrated my clothes, inflicting terrible wounds.

But my hand had met an unexpected friend in my knife, which I had unwittingly thrust into my belt, and with it I inflicted several random stabs on my antagonist. This, however, seemed only to add to my own suffering; for, maddened by the pain, the bear threw himself upon the ground and rolled over me in his agony, while his huge teeth munched and tore at the blanket which a fortunate fit of toothache had made me wrap round my head. Not that, nor any other earthly matter seemed likely to concern me long, for the strength of excitement was already passing, a srange murmur was mingling in my ears with the fierce growls of my enemy; and the pain of his claws changed into a vague yet universal agony as unconsciousness and life were being pressed out in the terrible hug.

Suddenly a sound echoed through the cave, so sharp that it reached even my failing faculties, and appeared to thrill likewise on the nerves of my foe, to judge by the increased emphasis of his embrace; but the next instant he relaxed his hold, and sank helpless on the ground beside me, his almost insensible victim.

My first sensation as I revived were of burning pains all over my body, and exceeding cold in my hands and face; I opened my eyes to find a young Indian bending over me, and rubbing me with snow.

Passing near the cave, he had seen my fire, and heard the report of my revolver and had hastened to see what was the matter, just in time to save me from a miserable death and a revolting sepulcher.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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India brotherbear Offline
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( This post was last modified: 01-14-2016, 04:27 PM by brotherbear )

Fortress of the Grizzly by Dan Wakeman and Wendy Shymanski - The Bluff Charge:

As soon as we shifted, the bear stopped eating. He stared at us nervously, the usual sign in bear body language that we were too close. Pausing, I lowered my head to look at the bear through my camera's zoom lens. What I saw in the viewfinder almost made me drop the camera - the 600-pound grizzly was charging toward us, ears flat against his head and legs fully extended. My heartbeat thundered in rhythm with the bear's galloping feet.

Many people in this situation would panic and run, or cock their rifle and shoot the bear. But after so many years in the company of these creatures, I have learned not to act so hastily. I told the visitors to stay calm and trust that the bear had no intention of coming anywhere near us. As hoped, the grizzly turned away from us halfway through his charge and resumed his grazing.

... I never intentionally cross into the safety zone. On the few occasions when I accidentally found myself too close to grizzly bears, they have shown a lack of aggression. Even the two most Common disaster scenarios - human stumbling upon a bear with carrion or a mother with cubs - have not produced any problems in the Khutzeymateen. The carrion scenario happens more in areas frequented by moose and caribou, while the mother bears we encounter remain remarkably calm in the presence of visitors.

My experiences in the Khutzeymateen and other areas lead me to believe that grizzly bears are peaceful creatures that do not look for confrontation, and that the blame for the antagonism between humans and grizzlies falls more on homo sapiens than ursus horribilis.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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India brotherbear Offline
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( This post was last modified: 01-14-2016, 04:30 PM by brotherbear )

Fortress of the Grizzly by Dan Wakeman and Wendy Shymanski - The Man who Talks to Grizzlies: ...continued...

I borrowed one effective technique for calming a bear from Monty Roberts' book 'The Man Who Listens to Horses'. If a horse gets nervous around Monty, he turns his back to the animal. This shows a trust that the horse recognizes.

One time a male grizzly was staring at me from about 40 feet away. I could tell that he was becoming agitated by my presence, and suddenly I thought, "I know. I'll turn my back like in that book." For ten seconds I stared out at the sea, knowing that an agitated male grizzly was right behind me. I couldn't actually hear the bear. I listened instead to the wavelets on the shore and the song of hermit thrushes. When I finally turned around, the bear had returned to munching grass and had clearly decided that I was not a threat.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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India brotherbear Offline
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#20
( This post was last modified: 01-15-2016, 07:17 AM by brotherbear )

The Bears of Katmai by Matthias Breiter.

Brown bears do occupy home ranges, but they do not defend them against their own kind. Thus, by definition, these home ranges are not territories and should not be confused with such. Maintaining territorial boundaries makes sense only if the advantage obtained by exclusive exploitation of the resources contained in the area justifies the energy expanded and the risk involved in defending these boundaries. Because bears travel across vast tracts of land to satisfy their nutritional needs and because different areas in their environment provide food at varying times of year, the defense of such large expanse of country would be impossible. However, if the resource is both limited and concentrated in a small area, such as a kill, carrion, or even a small but rich berry patch, bears will fight competitors fiercely.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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India brotherbear Offline
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#21
( This post was last modified: 01-15-2016, 07:19 AM by brotherbear )

The Grizzly by Enos A. Mills.

The grizzly is exceptionally expert and agile with his paws. With either fore paw he can strike like a sledge-hammer or lift a heavy weight. He boxes or strikes with lightning-like rapidity. Most grizzlies are right-handed; that is, the right fore paw is most used. If a small object is to be touched or moved, he will daintily use but one claw. The black bear would use the entire paw.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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India brotherbear Offline
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( This post was last modified: 01-15-2016, 07:23 AM by brotherbear )

Bears of the World by Paul Ward and Suzanne Kynaston.

The structure of the gut is also ( *besides teeth ) intimately related to the diet. Herbivorous animals often have a large chamber in which they are able to ferment their food ( with the aid of symbiotic microbes ); chewed food is passed to this chamber and then, after fermentation, is regurgitated for further chewing before being passed to the stomach for true digestion. Not even the most dedicated vegetarian member of the bears has evolved such a structure and bears are thus particularly inefficient at extracting nutrients from their food. This is one of the reasons why bears tend to opt for the most readily digestible available plant foods, rarely eating older grasses, sedges, and leaves. Specific growth stages of plants also vary in their suitability to bears' dietary preference, even from week to week. Bears are not born with this knowledge of the temporal sequence of appropriate food; it is something which must be learned as a cub, during the time spent with its mother.

The size of the bear obviously affects the size of the prey it can hunt. Brown bears are able to prey on moose, wapiti or elk, caribou or reindeer, bison, and musk ox.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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India brotherbear Offline
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#23
( This post was last modified: 01-15-2016, 07:25 AM by brotherbear )

Wild Guide - Bears by Charles Fergus.

Grizzlies have been seen killing fully grown elk, moose, bison, and musk oxen, although not often do they tackle such dangerous prey.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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#24
( This post was last modified: 01-15-2016, 02:43 PM by brotherbear )

Yellowstone Bears in the Wild by James C. Halfpenny.

"Students from my bear class and I watched spellbound as the grizzly swept rapidly back and forth through the grass of Antelope Creek. The bear had learned that by loping through the grass it could often spook an elk calf out of hiding. It worked. A calf broke from cover but the bear was on it before it covered five strides. Today the sow's cubs would eat."
- Field Notes, June 20, 1994.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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India brotherbear Offline
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#25
( This post was last modified: 01-15-2016, 02:47 PM by brotherbear )

Yellowstone Bears in the Wild by James C. Halfpenny.

If an animal is big and fast and has big canine teeth, then predation comes naturally to that animal. Yellowstone bears fit this description and they are consummate predators when opportunities arise. They also have strategies to maximize success.
Standing along the Mount Washburn road, we used spotting scopes to scan the south side of Specimen Ridge. We watched a grizzly running for no apparent reason. The bear went back and forth over the hillside for more than a half mile. It went up and down a thousand vertical feet. It loped, not at a top speed but faster than any distance runner could match. It weaved in and around three-foot-tall sagebrush. This activity went on for about 30 minutes. Then an elk calf flushed from sagebrush near the bear. A surge of speed by the grizzly and the hunt was over. The bear's seemingly endless jaunt was actually a well-developed strategy that produced food.
Kerry Gunther, Yellowstone National Park's bear management biologist, and Steve and Marilyn French describe three hunting strategies when bears are preying on elk calves: search, chase, and ambush.
Searching takes advantage of an elk's strategy to protect calves by having calves curl up on the ground in an area of tall sagebrush and remain motionless. Grizzlies search in one of two ways. During blind searches, a bear approaches a sagebrush meadow where there are no elk. It moves rapidly through the sage with its nose to the ground. Generally the bear uses a zigzag pattern and sometimes stands on its hind legs to look for newborns. These searches average about 30 minutes but they may cover two miles and last two hours before the bear is successful or gives up.
The visible search involves a bear charging into a meadow where there are elk, usually females. But rather than chase the fleeing adults, the bear starts searching through the sage just like a blind search.
Many people say newborn elk calves have no odor. This is not true. After performing a necropsy on a dead calf, I can smell the calf's odor on my hands, and if I can smell it, so can a bear. Many observers have seen searching bear abruptly turn into the wind and grab a calf. Nonetheless, when a calf curls among the sagebrush its odor is low to the ground and doesn't dissipate very far. A bear must be close to detect it.
In a chase, a bear lopes towards a herd of elk, causing them to bunch together. Then the bear charges into the herd, scattering the elk and creating confusion. Sometimes calves get separated from their mothers and the bear concentrates on a calf. Chases average only five to ten minutes but may cover three miles.
The third strategy is ambush. This is when bears take advantage of cover, usually trees, to stalk as close as 50 yards from elk. Then the bear bursts from hiding at full gallop. Ambush chases are very efficient and seldom last more than 20 seconds or cover more than 150 yards.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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India brotherbear Offline
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( This post was last modified: 01-15-2016, 09:51 PM by brotherbear )

I would like to point out that just like the grizzly, a polar bear will seek out the easiest meal available. When hunting walrus, a polar bear normally chooses a calf. I have seen just one witnessed account caught on film by ( if I remember correctly ) a Russian biologist, of a polar bear attacking and killing a mature bull walrus. How often this actually happens is anyone's guess. I am certain that the are those rare occasions when a grizzly takes down a mature bison or moose. But catching the action on film is not so simple. I know that tigers have been known to kill bull buffalo, bull gaur, and even adult rhinoceros yet I have seen no such action caught on film.  
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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( This post was last modified: 01-15-2016, 11:41 PM by Polar )

(01-15-2016, 09:50 PM)brotherbear Wrote: I would like to point out that just like the grizzly, a polar bear will seek out the easiest meal available. When hunting walrus, a polar bear normally chooses a calf. I have seen just one witnessed account caught on film by ( if I remember correctly ) a Russian biologist, of a polar bear attacking and killing a mature bull walrus. How often this actually happens is anyone's guess. I am certain that the are those rare occasions when a grizzly takes down a mature bison or moose. But catching the action on film is not so simple. I know that tigers have been known to kill bull buffalo, bull gaur, and even adult rhinoceros yet I have seen no such action caught on film.  

True. All carnivores always go for the smaller prey, if possible.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#28
( This post was last modified: 01-16-2016, 03:52 AM by brotherbear )

Yellowstone Bears in the Wild by James C. Halfpenny.


Lone bears and females with cubs do much of the predation on elk calves. The time when calves are most vulnerable coincides with the bear mating season, and adult males spend far more time searching for females than preying on elk calves.
Elk often act in defence during bear attacks on calves. A mother elk will approach a bear that is searching her area. If the bear chases the mother, the adult elk is seldom caught and the bear usually ends up starting a new search in a new area, presumably away from where the mother elk had hidden her calf.
In a chase, mother elk sometimes charge at the bear from the side, causing the bear to veer off and perhaps lose track of the calf it was chasing. At other times not only the calf's mother but other female elk will cross between a running calf and the pursuing bear. Occasionally famale will try to intimidate a bear and may actually kick at it. The final defense strategy is to flee into water, usually a river. This tactic works better with wolves than grizzlies.
Summer chases of adult elk are more often failure than successes. Much has been made about grizzlies killing large bull elk that are in a weakened condition after the autumn rutting season, but this has seldom been observed. Mattson calculates that on average a Yellowstone grizzly kills an adult elk once every year. Of course, some grizzlies kill no elk and other grizzlies kill more than one. Some of these elk must be bulls.
Some bears must prey on elk after dark. female bears with cubs may not come out of the forest until dark, but by morning light they are seen feeding on a freshly killed elk carcass.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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India brotherbear Offline
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( This post was last modified: 01-16-2016, 03:53 AM by brotherbear )

Yellowstone Bears in the Wild by James C. Halfpenny.


Grizzlies also prey on moose and bison. When Dave Mattson compared prey selection, grizzlies appeared to favor moose over other ungulates while bison and deer were least favored. Bears obtained almost half of their moose meat by predation; on average a bear killed one moose every other year. Nonetheless, the amount of moose meat consumed by grizzlies was 20 times greater than would be expected by the population density of moose.
Moose are larger than elk and usually provide more meat, but moose behavior may be the critical key to bear predation. Moose are solitary creatures that inhabit forests much of the time. Grizzlies may be better able to use forest cover to stalk and ambush moose. Conversely, elk and bison exist in herds in open areas, two factors that work against successful bear attacks.
Few deer are taken, possibly because deer are fast and in general inhabit lower elevations than grizzlies.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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India brotherbear Offline
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( This post was last modified: 01-16-2016, 04:11 PM by brotherbear )

Yellowstone Bears in the Wild by James C. Halfpenny.


Because of their large size, a bison represents a valuable food prize for a bear, but with size comes the ability to defend itself. Bison are very agile and have been known to run 40 mph for great distances. They are very strong with powerful head and shoulder muscles. Given the risks of injury to a bear, it was not surprising there were almost no historic records of bears preying on bison. In 2002 that changed.
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
        
  
             
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