Climate change may be making bears vegetarian

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Grizzly bears on Kodiak Island changed their diets and started eating berries instead of salmon because of climate change, according to a new study.

U.S. (Next Media) – Grizzly bears on Kodiak Island changed their diets and started eating berries instead of salmon because of climate change, according to a new study.

Ecologists William Deacy and Jonathan Armstrong from Oregon State University published the research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the International Business Times reported.

The pair have been studying bears on Kodiak Island for years. Every summer they would see grizzlies eating large amounts of sockeye salmon in preparation for the winter.

Then in 2014, bacteria began eating the salmon and the bears were no longer seen hunting for fish. The same thing happened in 2015.

The scientists placed tracking collars on 15 bears at the beginning of 2014 to see where the grizzlies were going to in the summer.

They found that the bears were in the hills next to elderberry bushes. Warmer temperatures were causing elderberries to ripen earlier in the season than usual.

This meant salmon and elderberries were available at the same time, and that bears were choosing the berries over fish.

Elderberries contain less protein compared to salmon and require less energy to digest, leading to faster weight gain for bears.

The change is diet was also found to be affecting the bears’ natural habitat because fewer fish carcasses in the forests meant less nutrients being absorbed into the soil.

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