Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Northern Brown Bears Discovered Feeding On Whitefish Runs

Date:
October 27, 2009
Source:
Arctic Institute of North America
Summary:
It is well documented that brown (grizzly) bears prey on major runs of salmon, charr and trout. In 2007, researchers were surprised to spot a brown bear caching whitefish near a stream in the Mackenzie Delta region of the Northwest Territories. This sighting has researchers advising increased care in petroleum extraction and infrastructure development within the area.

The discovery of brown (grizzly) bears feeding on migrating broad whitefish in a stream in Mackenzie Delta region of the Northwest Territories has researchers advising increased care in petroleum extraction and infrastructure development within the area.

Related Articles


In a paper published in the September issue of the journal Arctic, Oliver Barker and Andrew Derocher from the University of Alberta report seeing at least one brown bear engaged in the unusual activity of caching whitefish at Pete's Creek, a small Mackenzie River tributary located between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. While it is well known that brown bears feed on salmon, trout and charr, this is the first scientific reporting of brown bears feeding on whitefish and supports what is recorded from local traditional knowledge.

Each spring since 2003, several bears were outfitted with satellite radio-collars. In October 2007, while conducting a helicopter survey of the bears, the researchers noticed two patches of disturbed ground near Pete's Creek. What they found when they landed surprised them – two caches with whole and partially eaten whitefish.

"My first impression was excitement. My second was apprehension," says Barker, "I don't like being in willow thickets when there are bears nearby."

Realizing their shotgun was in the helicopter, Barker beat a hasty retreat. Once in the air, they did indeed observe a young female nearby. "She was quite fat and shiny. Very roly-poly,'" recalls Barker.

Brown bears in the Mackenzie Delta face several challenges. Not only are food sources scarce, the bears are often active for just five months of the year. This creates extreme pressure for them to find adequate nutrition.

"These bears are real opportunists. They'll take advantage of different food sources," says Barker. This means some will turn to whitefish which are easily available in large numbers when they migrate in the fall. And although bears are omnivores and can exist on mostly vegetarian diets, fish are a better food source because they are rich in protein and fat.

Barker says the fall run of whitefish could be playing a significant role in the diets of some Mackenzie Delta brown bears. He would like to see more research conducted on the bears and their feeding habits, in order to mitigate the impacts of development activities.

"Pete's Creek may be an important but spatially concentrated food source, but we can't put it into context until we know more" says Barker. "It could take a small amount of disturbance in an area like this to disrupt these bears. There is still a lot we don't know about Mackenzie Delta bears, and any development should be mindful of such resources."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Arctic Institute of North America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Arctic Institute of North America. "Northern Brown Bears Discovered Feeding On Whitefish Runs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090922123935.htm>.
Arctic Institute of North America. (2009, October 27). Northern Brown Bears Discovered Feeding On Whitefish Runs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090922123935.htm
Arctic Institute of North America. "Northern Brown Bears Discovered Feeding On Whitefish Runs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090922123935.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins