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Climate change fattens grizzly bears, study shows


A grizzly cub named booboo has escaped from a facility in Florida.


Dani Pozo

While nearly every piece of news about climate change is negative, a new study shows that grizzly bears might reap the benefits of global warming.

A study by biologists at the University of Alberta found that the bears show a tendency to fatten up quicker in milder temperatures, increasing their chances of successful reproduction.

The 10-year study followed 112 bears in Alberta's Rocky Mountains. 

Researchers found that as warming occurs and there is less late-winter snow, bears have easier access to food.

The more food, the bigger and healthier the bear. The bigger and healthier the bear, the better their chances are of successfully rearing cubs.

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The researchers call it the "silver spoon effect": bears born into climate change, they say, can get a headstart in life.

"We hypothesize that warmer temperatures in this ecosystem, especially during late winter and spring, may not be such a bad thing for grizzlies," said study author biologist Scott Nielsen in a press release.

The historic range of grizzly bears were as far as Mexico and even into Mongolia, he noted. "That suggests the species won't likely be limited by rising temperatures which would lengthen the growing season and the time needed to fatten prior to hibernation."

Only some 750 grizzlies still live in the forests of Alberta province, which has classified them as a threatened species.

The findings were published in the journal BMC Ecology.