Marsican brown bear

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Marsican brown bear
Orso bruno marsicano.jpg
Scientific classification
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U. a. marsicanus
Trinomial name
Ursus arctos marsicanus
Altobello, 1921
Marsican Brown bear standing by the river scoping out food.
http://utenti.romascuola.net/bups/park.htm This is a broad view of the National Park of Abruzzo

The Marsican brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus) (Italian: orso bruno marsicano), also known as the Apennine brown bear, is a critically endangered subspecies of the brown bear, with a range restricted to the Abruzzo National Park, and the surrounding region in Italy. The Marsican Brown Bear is very similar to a regular brown bear with slight differences in their appearance and hibernation techniques. Baby Marsican bears tend to grow up fairly quickly. They are restricted to the National Parks the Italian government reserved for them. With their existence dwindling, the Italian government has recently begun to stress their conservation. The park has become a sanctuary dedicated to animals such as the Marsican, with hopes of rekindling the large, yet isolative bears’ once thriving existence. In recent years, more conservation groups have tried to help this bear. Debate exists as to whether it should be considered a subspecies or a taxon of its own.[2]

Characteristics/ Biology[edit]

The Marsican Brown Bear lives its life in isolation. With their existence dwindling, the 50 bears that remain in the Abruzzo National Park have characteristics that differ from their sibling subspecies. The Marsican Brown Bear, otherwise known as the Abruzzi Brown Bear, have a relatively calm temperament, with no aggression shown towards humans. In terms of size, the male Marsican Bear is larger than most of the brown bear subspecies, with a weight of around 217 kg (480 pounds), while the female is significantly smaller, at around 140 kg (310 pounds). These bears are known to be omnivorous in nature, mainly eating berries, while occasionally eating small animals such as chickens and other livestock. All of these traits the bear shows can likely be attributed to its existence in isolation.

In a standing position, the Marsican Brown Bear can reach heights of up to 2 meters. Their large size, as well as noticeably different forepaws to their rear are characteristics that help distinguish their presence. The footprints, hair residue, color of feces, and claw marks the bears leave are special to their species. These large mammals have been spotted rolling rocks over in search of insects as well as reaching high into branches looking for berries, honey, etc. Their great sense of smell makes up for their mediocre eyesight when it comes to searching for food.

A unique characteristic of the Marsican is that their winter hibernation is not made up of a single consecutive slumber. The bear wakes at times which makes their official resurgence less lethargic.

Through the years, the Marsican bear became the symbol of the local Abruzzo National Park and lent its name to pan dell’orso (bear bread) and other traditional regional foods. Thanks to its presence, ecotourism improved in the whole Abruzzi region, though conflicts with shepherds and honey farmers are still reported. In prehistoric times, hundreds of bears would have lived in these mountains.

Behavior[edit]

The Marsican Brown bear's behavior is relatively typical to any other brown bear. These bears are mainly nocturnal, except when with their cubs or mating, where they seem to be very independent and self-contained. Mating season for these bears is usually between May and July, landing birthing of the cubs in early winter.[3] Around February every year females give birth anywhere from one to three cubs, weighing less than 500 grams at birth, but heavily relying on the size of their mother.[4]

Marsican Cubs grow up very quickly because of their mother's fat-induced milk they feed on, allowing them to roam on their own and be independent after only a few months of existence. On average, Marsican Brown Bear pups stay with their mothers for a little over a year. As they grow older, females become fertile and sexually mature at around age three, allowing reproduction early in the mother's life.[4] These bears mature very quickly and develop a very good sense of hearing and smell, which will help them find food and roam their environment. In contrast, the eye-sight of the Marsican Brown Bear is rather ordinary, or average. As they start to grow, they turn to eating more of a plant based diet including: grass, fruit, berries, etc. Because they are omnivores, it is a common pattern seen with this specific species of brown bears.[5]

Diet[edit]

The Marsican bear's favorite food is known to be the Buckthorn Berry, which they feast on in the late summer time in the mountains of the Abruzzo park, where the remainder of the species remain.[5] Other components of their diet include meat, eating carcasses as well as hunting for certain wild animals, which is why they are not considered a harmful predator to those around them. On the other hand, some domestic animals including sheep, chicken, turkey and a few others may fall victim to the big bear and its sharp claws.[5] Aside from its eating habits, the Marsican Bear also learns to begin to look for a dry and safe place to spend their winter.

Environment[edit]

Very few of Marsican Brown bears remain, and all those do are located in the Abruzzo National park of Italy, where high peaks merge into woodland, lots of water and land, with scattered villages.[6] Marsican bears are commonly known to hang out in wooded areas, building up little paces to live in. Although wooded environments are usually preferred, it is not uncommon for bears to reach high altitude grasslands or cultivated areas on valley floors. They are usually either seen camping out [7] in one primary area for a while, or being very mobile and on the move looking for food sources.

There are roughly only 50 of these bears left, and it is mainly because of the environment that they live in. They are often killed accidentally by being poisoned, poached, hit by a motor vehicle, or one of the many other abstract ways a bear could pass. Bears often travel in Abruzzo to the high-altitude meadows in the summer, and then up to the warmer areas of valley when the temperatures start to cool. As the temperature decreases, the bears learn awareness to start looking for a dormitory, and planning out their winter.[7]

In their dens they start to become more relaxed and slowed down, requiring less food and beginning to adjust to the colder temperatures. Bears will hide in their dens most of winter, but are not in full-hibernation unlike most animals. Bears keep a very reasonable level of consciousness and awareness to their external changes throughout the winter, and might even take a stroll on a nice sunny day. This period of time is where all of the fat build-up throughout the year becomes very critical, as they need enough fat to burn to stay alive. They do not fully sustain themselves during this period, and use the extra fat burning off for energy reserve as well as a thermal resource.[8]

Overall, these bears are very good at living as an individual, and do not face many other threats in their environment except for poachers. Being omnivores, these bears can adapt themselves to diverse habitats, and strive as long as they are not disturbed often, and have a developed source of food nearby.[7]

Range[edit]

National Park of Abruzzo, Latium, and Molise with the wide range of environments like rivers, forests, and mountains.

The Marsican Brown Bear is a small, isolated population of bears.[9] It is found is the Central Apennines Mountains in Italy where there are a range of settings like lakes, woods, and settlements of citizens.[10] They are usually found in the National Parks of Abruzz, Lazio, and Molise.[11] The Abruzzo National Park consists of valleys and a section of the Apennine Mountain range in Italy, this enclosed, though lush area is a likely factor for why the endangered species is not leaving. This part of the country consists of mainly beechwood, which the bear is particularly fond of, though grasslands and meadows can be found at higher altitudes as well. This bear may, also, be found in nearby locations: Sibillni National Park, Gran Sasso-Laga National Park, Sirente- Velino Regional Park, and Simbruini Regional Park. The population range of the Marsican Brown Bear has significantly reduced over the past hundreds of years. Since they emerged in an isolated area, it does have a smaller population compared to other brown bears but it has been on the brink of extinction for decades now.[12] In the 1980s, there were about 100 of them,[12] but currently there is an estimate of about 43 bears on average still living in this area.[13] Only about 10-12 of the Marsican Brown Bears living in this area are females that are able to reproduce.[11] In Italy, their state of critical endangerment has been stressed greatly by government officials, for their extinction is still a possibility. According to Giuseppe Ross, "the number of bears have fallen below the threshold of survival."[14]

The Marsican bear is still completely isolated from its nearest neighbours, a population of Eurasian brown bears in the Italian Alps. It could expand its range though, as there is suitable habitat throughout the Apennines.[15]

Conservation[edit]

The Marsican Brown Bear, sub-population of the brown bear, has been included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.[16] People have started to acknowledge and support the need for conservation of these bears. Ecotourism has improved their urgency for conservation of these areas.[14] Italy officially protected the Marsican Brown Bear in 1923 by making the National Park of Abruzz, Lazio, and Molise.[9] The National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio, and Molise (PNALM) has had a major impact in conserving the bears. They ensure to that habitats will stay intact or preserve more, supply more food to the bears, and policies that will reduce bear-human conflicts.[17] Another effort made by Italians is the Piano d'Azione Nazionale per la Tutela dell'Orso Bruno Marsicano (PATOM) was made to protect the bears.[9]

During 2001, the Italian Ministry of the Environment for Protection of the Territory and the Sea made the Action Plan for the Conservation of the Marsican Brown Bear. It made the collection of basic health data of the Marsican Brown Bear a very important priority. It studied common diseases around the area. It has a specific attention to infectious diseases that could affect the bears and local wildlife.[16]

Up until 2014, Italy and the European Union teamed up to conserve the bears in the Apennine Mountains. It was called the Life Arctos Project. It was partially funded by the European Union due to expense cost of $7.3 million. They planted trees closer to the hills, away from civilians to prevent bear-human interactions. They put up electric fences around farms and vegetable gardens to push the Marsican Bears away from humans.[14] Pushing them higher in the mountains helps prevent less human-bear interaction and resupply the food supply that is slowly being lost.

Hunting has been a problem on conserving the bears, whether it was legal or illegal.[18] However, poaching has decreased in numbers so the population may be increased.[19] More measures need to be taken or be more concerned about to save these bears. One is controlling how the land will be used in the future.[18] There are discussions about whether diseases from the cattle will spread and kill off the Marsican Brown Bears.[20] In addition, it is suggested that there be more plans to preserve their habitats and food.[17]

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature the brown bear species as a whole is classified as “Least Concern”, which is to say that it does not require urgent conservation actions.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Djuro Huber (Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe; Bear Specialist Group) (2006). "Ursus arctos". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2006.3 (3.1). International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  2. ^ Loy, A.; P. Genov; M. Galfoc; M. G. Jacobonec; A. Vigna Tagliantic (2008), "Cranial morphometrics of the Apennine brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus) and preliminary notes on the relationships with other southern European populations", Italian Journal of Zoology, 75 (1): 67–75, doi:10.1080/11250000701689857
  3. ^ "Marsican brown bear (Appenine brown bear) – Bear Conservation". www.bearconservation.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  4. ^ a b "Marsican brown bear | Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise". www.parcoabruzzo.it. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  5. ^ a b c www.nettamente.com, Nettamente -. "Marsican Brown Bear". www.ecotur.org. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  6. ^ "Web Login Service". search.proquest.com. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  7. ^ a b c "Animal Facts Marsican Brown Bear | Second opinion doctor". www.second-opinion-doc.com. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  8. ^ "Italy has its own subspecies of bear – but there are only 50 left". The Independent. 2017-06-26. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  9. ^ a b c "Protection of the critically endangered Marsican Brown Bear in Central Apennines | Fondation Segré". www.fondationsegre.org (in French). Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  10. ^ "Italy has its own subspecies of bear – but there are only 50 left". The Independent. 2017-06-26. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  11. ^ a b References (n.d). Marsican bear vanishing with Italian wilderness. New Zealand Herald.
  12. ^ a b "Italy's Rare Bear in Losing Battle Against Extinction". TreeHugger. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  13. ^ Zedrosser, A., Dahle, B., Swenson, J., & Gerstl, N. (2001). Status and Management of the Brown Bear in Europe. Ursus, 12, 9-20. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/3873224
  14. ^ a b c "Italy's largest animal is on the brink of extinction". Christian Science Monitor. 2011-05-03. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  15. ^ "Italy has its own subspecies of bear – but there are only 50 left". The Independent. 2017-06-26. Retrieved 2017-11-28.
  16. ^ a b Di Francesco, C., Gentile, L., Di Pirro, V., Ladiana, L., Tagliabue, S., & Marsillo, F. (2015). Serologic Evidence for Selected Infectious Diseases in Marsican Brown Bears (Ursus arctos marsicanus) in Italy (2004–09). Wildlife Disease Association , 51, 209-213.
  17. ^ a b Ciucci, P., & Boitani, L. (2008). The Apennine Brown Bear: A Critical Reviews of Its Status and Conservation Problems. Ursus, 19 (2), 130-145, doi: 10.2 1921 07 per 012.1
  18. ^ a b Febbo, D., Pellegrini, M. (1990). The HIstorical Presence of the Brown Bear in the Apennines. Series Zoologica Aqulio, 27, 85-88.
  19. ^ Zedrosser, A., Dahle, B., Swenson, J., & Gerstl, N. (2001). Status and Management of the Brown Bear in Europe. Ursus, 12, 9-20. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/3873224
  20. ^ Allen, D., & Blythe, C. (2015). Bear Necessities. Geographical (Geographical Magazine Ltd.) 87(12), 38-43
  21. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/italy-has-its-own-subspecies-of-bear-but-there-are-only-50-left-a7808156.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)

Work Cited[edit]

Allen, D., & Blythe, C. (2015). Bear Necessities. Geographical (Geographical Magazine Ltd.) 87(12), 38-43.

Ciucci, P., & Boitani, L. (2008). The Apennine Brown Bear: A Critical Reviews of Its Status and Conservation Problems. Ursus, 19 (2), 130-145, doi: 10.2 1921 07 per 012.1

Di Francesco, C., Gentile, L., Di Pirro, V., Ladiana, L., Tagliabue, S., & Marsillo, F. (2015). Serologic Evidence for Selected Infectious Diseases in Marsican Brown Bears (Ursus arctos marsicanus) in Italy (2004–09). Wildlife Disease Association , 51, 209-213.

Febbo, D., Pellegrini, M. (1990). The HIstorical Presence of the Brown Bear in the Apennines. Series Zoologica Aqulio, 27, 85-88.

Loy, A.; P. Genov; M. Galfoc; M. G. Jacobonec; A. Vigna Tagliantic (2008). "Cranial morphometrics of the Apennine brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus) and preliminary notes on the relationships with other southern European populations". Italian Journal of Zoology. 75 (1): 67–75. doi:10.1080/11250000701689857.

References (n.d). Marsican bear vanishing with Italian wilderness. New Zealand Herald.

Zedrosser, A., Dahle, B., Swenson, J., & Gerstl, N. (2001). Status and Management of the Brown Bear in Europe. Ursus, 12, 9-20. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/3873224