Do squirrels teach bears to cross the railroad? Grizzlies dig squirrel middens for grains

ScienceDaily | 8/30/2017 | Staff
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As a result, the rodents have grown used to foraging on the spilled seeds, which they collect in underground storage areas where they can be discovered and dug up by grizzly bears. Grain-conditioned bears may frequent the railway more often than usual, resulting in increased mortality by trains strikes.

Furthermore, the dispersal, following caching and digestion of such seeds by both squirrels and bears, could lead to the spread and establishment of those agricultural plants in the area.

Case - Members - University - Alberta - Research

The case is investigated and discussed by members of the University of Alberta's research team of Julia Elizabeth Put, Laurens Put and Dr. Colleen Cassady St. Clair. Their study is published in the open access journal Nature Conservation.

It all began when members of the team found a grain-filled midden that was visited by a bear near where the same bear had bluff-charged Parks Canada employees. At the time, the researchers were investigating possible explanations for causes of grizzly bear mortality on the adjacent railway. Thus, an unexpected opportunity to document interactions between species and how those can lead to human-wildlife conflicts presented itself to the scientists.

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