Friday, April 04, 2008
By Jeanna Bryner
This is no circus act. Between 2005 and 2007, Kate Kendall of the U.S. Geological Survey and her colleagues took video footage of black and grizzly bears doing what looks like the go-go at their favorite “rub trees.”
They also got film of bears lumbering beneath stretches of barbed wire used to snag hair samples.
The research is part of a larger study to estimate the population size and distribution of bears in northwestern Montana using genetic analyses of the bears’ hair samples.
Scientists think bears shimmy their backs against trees in a kind of bump-and-grind to scratch hard-to-reach spots and to communicate their presence to other Ursus kin.
“It’s probably primarily a form of chemical communication,” Kendall said. “Often bears will sniff the trees before and after they rub on them.”
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