A new study within the Journal of Experimental Biology says that there’s purpose that hikers encounter grizzly bears on trails: It appears that the trail of least resistance for grizzlies is similar one which people wish to stroll on.


Grizzly bears on a treadmill

For the examine, researchers at Washington State University’s Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center skilled 9 captive bears to stroll and run on a customized, air-tight horse treadmill. In addition to being a degree strolling floor, the metal and polycarbonate treadmill may be pitched up or down. The purpose it was air-tight was so scientists may measure the quantity of oxygen utilized by bears as they walked. This data, in flip, allowed researchers to estimate calorie consumption.

Of course, an entire lot of persuasion was wanted (similar to with most people) to get the bears on the treadmill. It took two months of coaching—plus a gentle stream of treats corresponding to apples, canine biscuits, and sizzling canine as soon as the bears have been on the treadmill. “The most stressful part of rewarding them was ensuring that the apple slice didn’t fall, resulting in the bear turning around on the treadmill to go after it,” said Anthony Carnahan, a lead writer on the examine.

For the Center’s bear, probably the most energy-efficient strolling pace was about 2.6 miles per hour. This information was then in contrast with monitoring information from 30 GPS collar-wearing grizzlies in and round Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone bears sometimes stroll at a leisurely 1.2 mph. Of course, the park bears weren’t on a gentle weight loss program of sizzling canine and apples; they have been actively on the lookout for their subsequent meal.

And grizzlies spend most of their time feeding, particularly throughout autumn when they’re gaining weight earlier than hibernation. The Yellowstone grizzly weight loss program shouldn’t be a choosy one—the National Park Service estimates that these bears eat, not less than, 266 species of plant, fish, invertebrate, mammal, and fungi.

Sharing the identical mountain climbing trails

While increase power for winter, it is smart that wild bears try to expend as little as attainable. And that is the place the WSU examine components into your subsequent fall hike: The treadmill bears wanted elevated power to go up and down steep slopes. It is smart that their wild counterparts decide flat paths or ones with shallow slopes, ideally not more than a ten p.c grade up or down.

In 2019, there have been 28 reported grizzly encounters on Yellowstone backcountry trails (and no guests have been injured). Yellowstone National Park additionally has rules for hiking in bear country. These embody calls to: Be alert, hike in teams of three or extra, make noise, and carry bear spray/know tips on how to use bear spray. In addition, hikers are requested to not hike at daybreak, nightfall, or through the night time, and to not count on bears to see you first.

And, bear in mind, should you cross paths with a grizzly bear within the wild, it’s their path, too.

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