I am often asked why I chose to research chemical signalling (aka scent marking behaviour) in grizzly bears. Well, one of the main reasons is that we still know so very little about how bears use odours to communicate! There have only been a handful of published studies which have looked at the behaviour in detail, and therefore we understand very little on the importance of this behaviour to bears. The implications of this lack in knowledge then has implications for the conservation and management of bears. If we don’t fully understand the ecological and social pressures which affect bears in their day-to-day lives, how can we expect to succeed in managing populations appropriately. Through our research, we aim to bridge this gap in knowledge using sound science conducted on wild populations.
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My trail camera videos of brown bear rub trees in SE Alaska also show that bears walk in the same tracks as prior bears when they approach a rub tree. Over time this behavior wears holes in the ground. These “hole trails” commonly disappear within 100 feet or so of the bear tree. Bears walk in the “hole trail” when they leave the tree, too.