Using trail cameras to research bears allows us to gain an up close and personal view of their day to day lives without the impact of constantly being viewed. They allow bears to be bears, which is the stuff we find really interesting to capture on film! This year was my first full field season using Bushnell HD video camera traps and, despite some design flaws, I don’t think I’ll be switching back to still image capture in the future.
There has been lots of action on the camera traps over the past few days. The mating season has officially began, and we’ve seen two female grizzly bears pursuing one male out in the estuary. The mating season is always an exciting time, both for viewing bear behaviour and for collecting data! I’ve been out daily to my camera traps and have been taking scent samples when I’ve found evidence that scent marking has taken place. Examining the chemical constituents of bear scent will allow use to understand the chemical messages passed on through this behaviour. Can grizzly bears recognise individuals through scent? Can bears identify age and sex through scent? What about the estrus state of females? These are all questions we hope to address through this project.
Happy to announce that our third paper from the bear scent communication project has been accepted for publication in the journal Animal Behaviour! The title of the paper is Scent marking investment and motor patterns are affected by the age and sex of wild brown bears.