Saturday, September 6, 2008
How did the bear die?
Remember this dead bear we discovered on July 15? We thought it may have been killed by an adult? Well here is a suggested explanation from Dr. Ian Stirling, one of the world's top authorities on polar bears:
"Without being there it is hard to be sure what happened to this bear but it seems unlikely to be the victim of predation as it appears the whole carcass is more or less intact and that the hair has just rotted and fallen off the skin beside the body. Usually, if a larger bear has killed a smaller one, it is dismembered and eaten or at least partially eaten, resulting in parts of the skeleton being spread all over. This animal looks like he might just have starved and died lying on its stomach or side. Males often chase 2 year olds away from their mothers in spring to free them up for breeding but killing the young one is rare."
Dr. Ian Stirling is a Scientist Emeritus with the Canadian Wildlife Service. His research has focused mostly on Arctic and Antarctic zoology and ecology. He is an adjunct professor in the University of Alberta Department of Biological Sciences. Stirling has written three books and nearly 200 articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He has written and spoken extensively about the danger posed to polar bears by global warming. We thank him for his feedback.