The Loh Down On Science

Don't Blame Mom

Who's to blame when black bears go bad?

Pic-a-nic basket gone missing?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

and on changing chow times in bear country.

North American black bears can wreak havoc on humans once they get a taste for junk food. They'll raid trash cans, invade campsites, injure property--and sometimes people.

Jon Beckman of the Wildlife Conservation Society wondered why bears go wrong, and if--oh, of course--MOTHER bear is to blame

To find out, he and his team monitored one hundred sixteen black bears in the Lake Tahoe Basin and Yosemite National Park.

Bears were classified as food-conditioned-- scarfing down stolen peanut-butter sandwiches and Mars bars--or non-food-conditioned, eating. . . eh. . . whatever bears eat.

The team also poked their inquisitive noses into the interactions of nine mother-cub pairs.

Conclusion? Bears pick up bad habits from delinquent buddies, or on their own. And bears that raid campsites do so because of the easy access to human food. Food-conditioned bears crave the quick meal--in a MacDonald's wrapper.

So don't point paws at mom! Or at Goldilocks! She just ate THEIR porridge. How do bears even get porridge? Research will tell.


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