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In a study that took place over 3 years the distinguished scientists Gro Kvelprud Moen¹, Ole-Gunnar Støen², Veronica Sahlén¹, and Jon E. Swenson¹­³ tried to establish whether or not there was a heightened risk with regard to bear-human conflicts in Scandinavia. The results from this study, that was published last week through Public Library of Science (PLoS One), seem to indicate that this risk is extremely low. When hikers get into contact with a bear, the bear makes itself scarce.

80% of the bears walked away from the observers

The team used GPS, to understand the bear traffic. In 3 years they studied the behaviour of 30 bears. The researchers started from the location of the bear and followed its path from that location

In only 15% of the situations they actually saw the bear. In 5% of the cases they clearly heard the bear walked away. Never did the bears show any sign of agressive behaviour or did the researchers feel threatened. In 80% of the cases they did not see the bear, while it moved away from them. The researchers observed that older bears moved away more slowly. They also observed that de bears moved away more slowly during the berry season.

Scandinavian brown bears are timid

The researchers hope that this new study will contribute to the removal of the fear that bears are dangerous. The study confirms that Scandinavian bears are much less agressive than their North-American or Russian brothers, and that the bears much rather avoid confrontations with humans by running away. The bears also avoid recreational and tourist locations and lodges.

The study can be found on PLoS One: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0031699


1) Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, A°s, Norway,
2) Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umea°, Sweden,
3) Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Trondheim, Norway