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28 March 2018 @ 08:14 am
Apparently it's not only humans who adjust the length that offspring live at home according to social conditions, Swedish bears are doing it, too. According to an article in Nature Communications and summarised in the Guardian, increasing numbers of female brown bears in Sweden have learned to protect themselves from being shot by keeping their cubs with them for 2.5 rather than the usual 1.5 years, taking advantage of a law that prohibits the hunting of bears in a family group.

“A single female in Sweden is four times more likely to be shot as one with a cub,” said Swenson, one of the authors of the study who has spent more than 30 years working with one of the world’s longest-running research projects on bears.

Over the scope of the study, the researchers found that some female bears began to adapt their mothering tactics in order to increase their survival chances – the ursine equivalent of a human shield.

In that time, some mother bears extended the period of care from 18 months to 2.5 years.

“Generally, the cubs have followed their mother for a year and a half,” said Swenson, with the researchers finding no evidence of the longer care period before 1995.

It's a fascinating read, recommended.

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