Up until recently, little was known about the private lives of bears living in and around Anchorage, Alaska. Sure, the urban-dwelling animals could occasionally be seen strolling through town or rummaging through trash, but now biologists are beginning to get a better idea of what bears are up to when they think no one is watching.
Last summer, officers from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game fitted four black bears and two brown bears with collar-mounted 'critter cams' to gain insight into their daily routines. The durable devices, set to film 10 second video clips every 20 minutes for a month, are equipped with a self-releasing mechanism along with GPS to help researchers track their movements and to recover them later.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, around 60 hours of up-close and personal bear's-eye-view footage has been captured on the critter cams so far -- which biologists say will help them better manage the animals' city-going tendencies.
Anchorage residents have long had to deal with bears scouring through their trash for food, worrying biologists that they had grown too dependent on our uneaten leftovers. As it turns out from critter cam footage, however, the bears were found to still fill their stomachs mainly from natural food sources in the wild -- though they happily foraged through unsecured garbage most days anyways.
"That's one of the questions we want to ask: If we could magically get rid of all the garbage, would we still have bears in town?" says researcher Sean Farley. "My guess is we would."
Interestingly, bears appeared to recognize trash cans with bear-locks, suggesting them to be an effective deterrent. In other words, with an estimated 300 or so bears living in the Anchorage area, interactions in urban spaces will be inevitable, though they needn't necessarily be messy.