Turns out brown bears are trash monsters whose habit of noshing on garbage leads them to develop a more sedentary lifestyle. Wow, same!
According to a new study published in the Journal of Zoology, migratory brown bears in northeast Turkey who often visited a garbage dump to find food—researchers termed them, fantastically, “dump bears”—tended to stick close to the trash heap, save for their hibernation period. Bears that never visited the garbage dump, however, traveled an average of 100 miles per year to find food.
The study tracked 16 bears in total—10 dump bears and six wild bears—and followed them for an average of 10 months, though some were tracked for up to 20 months.
“It’s surprising that two substantially distinct lifestyles can develop and coexist within a small and isolated subpopulation,” Gabriele Cozzi, a post-doctorate student at the University of Zurich who helped lead the study, told New Scientist.
Unfortunately, the dump bears may soon have to get used to their old way of living. The city government plans to close the garbage dump “in the near future,” according to the study. But if they don’t readjust to the old ways, the researchers warn, they may “die following malnutrition before hibernation.” Please, dump bears, I’m begging you, stay away from the garbage dump.
Interestingly, bears aren’t the only creatures whose behavior patterns have been substantially altered by the garbage we humans often and irresponsibly leave behind. White storks, too, have been shown to flock to garbage patches, and even city-dwelling ants like to snarf down our trash. Animals: Just like us!