Grizzly bears are the ultimate predator. Strong, fast, intelligent, and capable of taking down just about anything. Humans rarely survive an attack from a bear, and are often killed when the bears aren't even trying to actually kill them. In a recent study researchers found out something alarming: hunters are actually being followed by grizzly bears. But why?
Eight Montana grizzly bears have been outfitted with GPS trackers in an ongoing study that could bring some unnerving news to hunters.
The study is aimed at bolstering the theory that grizzlies, which can be as stealthy as they are ferocious, stalk hunters from as close as the length of a football field in order to steal their prey. Already, data has shown at least one grizzly following oblivious elk hunters almost from the moment they left the parking lot, according to the Billings Gazette. Scientists believe the bear may have been following the humans in hopes of getting to a fallen elk before they did.
"Bears opportunistically scavenge carcasses throughout the active season and commonly usurp kills of other predators, such as cougars and, since their reintroduction in 1995, gray wolves,” stated a report last year by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. “Remains left by hunters also provide grizzly bears with meat, and bears are attracted to areas outside of national parks when these remains become available during the fall.”
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, part of the U.S. Geological Survey, started the project over the summer, by tagging the grizzlies in the Grand Teton National Park. Next, the study team asked elk hunters to voluntarily carry some 100 GPS units that track their routes.
In the most clearly detailed example, a group of hunters turned on their GPS devices moments after leaving a parking area at around 6 a.m. When scientists analyzed their movements later and contrasted them with those of a nearby grizzly, it became clear the bear was tailing them.
The bruin stayed downwind of the hunters, at one point coming within 100 yards of them as they moved around a lake. At around noon, the bear bedded down for a nap, but easily picked up the hunters’ trail again when it awoke, according to the report. Grizzly bears’ have a sense of smell seven times greater than that of a bloodhound, and 100 times that of a human by some estimates. Grizzlies also possess a Jacobson’s organ in the roof of their mouth that can detect heavier moisture-borne odors.
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