Marsican brown bear
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|Marsican Brown Bear|
|Subspecies:||U. a. marsicanus|
|Ursus arctos marsicanus
The Marsican Brown Bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus), also known as the Apennine brown bear, is a highly threatened, unrecognized subspecies of the Brown bear, with a range restricted to the Abruzzo National Park, and possibly the Montagne del Morrone in Italy. The population of the bear is estimated at between 30 and 40. The male Marsican bears can weigh up to 200 kg (440 lb), with an upright height of 1.9 to 2 metres (6 ft 3 in to 6 ft 7 in), while females are roughly 25% smaller. They are among the largest carnivores in Italy. The remaining population is under threat, particularly from the shift from local agriculture to development in Abruzzo, as well as poaching and poisoning.
Marsican brown bears are usually very shy, and often only appear at night. Most of the bears are solitary and occupy their own territory, which can be up to 200 square kilometres (77 sq mi). The bears are sometimes known to enter residential areas in search for food, leading to some conflict with the local population. During the winter, they dig a burrow or stay in a cavity in a rock to hibernate, where, as with most species of bear, they exploit their large fat deposits (gained through eating a lot through the summer and autumn) to survive.
Up to 90% of their diet is made up of vegetation, particularly on roots, tubers, fruits, and berries. Such a diet contains few nutrients, meaning they must eat a lot to survive. However, Marsicans are omnivores, and will kill and eat small animals, or eat the carcasses of larger dead animals. They are seen by many people as a threat, particularly due to the idea that they kill livestock such as cattle; in reality, the bears avoid human contact wherever possible. However, this has led to many people killing the Marsican brown bears due to fear of attack.
The Marsican brown bears have no natural predators, which has led to a very low reproductive rate. The female usually gives birth to twins after a six-month gestation period, and then looks after them for the next 3 years. The females can become extremely aggressive over this period and have been known to attack humans to protect their cubs. Females become sexually mature at approximately 3 years of age. Marsican brown bears have an average life span of around 35 years, while infant mortality remains around 50%.
- Djuro Huber (Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe / Bear Specialist Group) (2006). "Ursus arctos". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 3.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- Paynton, Brian (2006). In Bear Country. London: Old Street. ISBN 978-1-905847-14-3.
- Hooper, John (2004-08-24). "Italy battles to save the last of its wild bears". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-16.[dead link]
- "Marsican bear found dead in Abruzzo". Italy Magazine. 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2007-06-20.
- 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.
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