Live fat die young, bearwise

less than 1 minute read

This story describes research on the longevity and maturation of wild bears who have invaded urban habitat in Nevada:

It turns out that urban black bears are much heavier and more likely to die violent deaths than their wilder peers, the study found. Oh, and if female, they're more likely to get pregnant at a younger age.

The research is describing cities and suburbs as “population sinks” for bears. The idea is that the urban habitat is drawing in bears (to eat garbage) who would otherwise live in marginal wild areas. Since those marginal wild areas are themselves probably population sinks – and the urban bears are reproducing younger – it’s not obvious that this is a net loss to the bears. But the behavioral and physiological consequences of the human diet – fatter bears who reproduce younger – and the interaction with the high death rate (from being hit by cars) is fascinating.