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Bear

In Polar Park there are five bears. We have two females born in the park in 2000, Balder and Brutus. We also have a large male bear called Truls, born in 1998 in Vassfaret.

2016-04-0214:07 Polar Park

In addition, we have our two bear cubs, Salt and Pepper, born in the Polar Park in 2009. 

Brown bear (Ursus arctos) is the largest predator we have on the Norwegian mainland, and most individuals live in border areas with Sweden, Finland and Russia.

The original Norwegian bear population became extinct in the 1900s due to extensive hunting over a long period, and individuals that are currently within the borders of Norway originated from Sweden, Finland and Russia. 

The status for the brown bear is listed as endangered on the Norwegian Red List of species 2010. 

GIVING BIRTH IN A DEN

The age at which bears reach sexual maturity is highly variable, both between and within species. Sexual maturity is dependent on body condition, which is in turn dependent upon the food supply available to the growing individual. The females of smaller species may have offspring from when they are  two years old, whereas the larger species may not rear young until they are four or even 9 years old. First breeding may be even later in males, where competition for mates may leave younger males without access to females. 

The bear's courtship period is very brief. Bears in northern climates reproduce seasonally, usually after a period of inactivity similar to hibernation, although tropical species breed all year round. Cubs are born toothless, blind, and bald. The cubs of brown bears, usually born in litters of one to three, will typically stay with the mother for two full seasons. They feed on their mother's milk through the duration of their relationship with their mother, although as the cubs continue to grow, nursing becomes less frequent and cubs learn to begin hunting with the mother.  

BIOLOGY

The brown bear is the largest predator on the Norwegian mainland. Berries are still the staple food when the bear will build up fat reserves for the winter. 

The body of the bear is very strongly built, with a distinct hump over the shoulders, strong neck, rounded vertical ears and short tail. The coat is dense, fairly long hair and usually brown, but can vary from light greyish yellow to almost black. 

Adult males weigh from 100 to 300 kilograms, while females are slightly smaller and weigh from 60 to 200 kilograms. 

DEPLETION OF BODY FAT

The Brown Bear hibernates in the winter. It is then relatively inactive and utilises energy stored in form of body fat. It also lowers the body temperature but not by more than four to five degrees, and can therefore react relatively quickly if it is disturbed.

ENERGY FROM BERRIES

Brown bears are omnivorous and obtain food from both flora and fauna. Most of the energy it gets from berries, ants and prey, like calves of moose and reindeer. They also eat sheep if the chance should present itself. In addition, the bears eat grass and herbs. 

Overall, plant foods and berries are the main component of the annual energy absorption. A diet of berries dominates in autumn to enable the bear to build up its fat reserve. Prey and ants, which contain much more protein than plant foods, is particularly important in spring and early summer, so the brown bear is able to build up its muscle mass after a hibernation of between six and seven months.

The young will remain with the mother for about three years, until she enters the next reproductive cycle and drives the cubs away. Bears reach sexual maturity in five to seven years. Male bears, especially polar and brown bears, will kill and sometimes devour cubs born to another father to induce a female to breed again. Female bears are often successful in driving off males in protection of their cubs, despite being rather smaller. 

YOUNG MALES WANDER MOST 

Living areas for brown bears in Scandinavia vary widely in size, both between individuals and between sexes. Males have much larger home ranges than females. 

Females with cubs usually have between 100 and 150 square kilometers of habitat, while females without cubs reign over about 200 to 300 square kilometers. Males usually have a home range of between 800 and 1,000 square kilometers. 

Young males wander over several thousand square kilometers, and can in principle appear anywhere in Norway.

Red = females / Blue =males 

POPULATION STATUS 

In 2012 at least 137 brown bears were detected in Norway using DNA analysis. 51 of them were females while 86 were males. 

Many of the bears were detected near national borders to the east, and probably live part of the year in our neighbouring countries. 

LIVING AREAS

Brown Bear females in Norway have living areas located adjacent to areas with bears in Sweden, Finland and Russia. They therefore live mainly in the areas of Pasvik, Anarjohka, inner Troms, Northern Norway and Eastern Hedmark. 

Male bears use larger areas than females and can roam over large distances, especially during migration. They could in principle occur anywhere in Norway. 

TO BE ERADICATED

In the mid-1800s between 4700 and 4800 brown bears lived in Scandinavia. 3,100 of these, or 65 percent, lived in Norway, while 1,650 lived in Sweden. Politically determined objectives that the bear population was to be eradicated led to a rapid decline in population towards the turn of the century in both countries. 

Around 1939 Sweden introduced several measures to stop the decline. In Norway at the same time the government scheme for bounty on bears was abolished. At this time there were only about 130 bears left in Scandinavia. 

In the period from 1943 to 1994, the Swedish population increased by around 1.5 percent each year, and in about the middle of the 1990s, the population was estimated to be between 650 and 700 bears in Sweden and between 22 and 35 in Norway. 

BEAR FACTS

Scientific name: Ursus arctos 

Distribution: North America, northern Europe and Asia. Habitat: Temperate forest, grass carpet, desert, mountains. 

Length: from 130. 250 cm (without tail) Tail Length approx. 8 cm 

Weight: Males are significantly larger than females. Bears from 100 to 300 kg. Females from 60 to 200 kg. There is a big difference in spring and autumn weight. 

Biology: The mating season is from May to July; delayed foetal development with birth in January-February. Litter size 2-4 cubs. (The cubs are very small: around300-600 grams) 

Food: Both plant foods and meat, but plant foods are important, especially in autumn. In spring everything from budding plants to ants, moose - and reindeer calves.  

Age: Can be up to 30 years in the wild, up to 50 years in Polar Park

 

Trevor Wagland

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