Updated: March 28, 2018 12:20:04 pm
Female Scandinavian bears might have adopted a survival tactic which is tied to the Swedish law on bear hunting, a recent study has shown. Researchers have found a link between the Swedish regulations banning hunting of bears in family groups and the prolonging of maternal care by female bears towards cubs.
The research team — which spent 22 years on studying the data collected on the reproductive strategy and survival of Scandinavian brown bears — found out that mother bears have increased their period of care from 1.5 years to 2.5 years.
This gradual increase in the duration of maternal care could be traced over the past two decades, the study said. Published in Nature Communications, the study is also one of the world’s longest study on bears, The Guardian reported.
“As long as a female has cubs, she is safe. This hunting pressure has resulted in a change in the proportion of females that keep their cubs for 1.5 years in relation to those that keep them for 2.5 years,” the study revealed. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of females keeping their cubs with them for an extra year rose from 7% to 36%.
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Apart from this, the study also pointed out that since a mother with cubs cannot mate, the more time she spends with her litter leads to fewer offsprings over her lifetime. Experts in the field have claimed that if this shift is indeed because of the hunting laws, it could signal an interesting instance of man-made policies altering wildlife. “Man is now an evolutionary force in the lives of the bears,” Professor Jon Swenson from Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) told The Guardian.
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