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      Caching behaviour by red squirrels may contribute to food conditioning of grizzly bears

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      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          We describe an interspecific relationship wherein grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) appear to seek out and consume agricultural seeds concentrated in the middens of red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), which had collected and cached spilled grain from a railway. We studied this interaction by estimating squirrel density, midden density and contents, and bear activity along paired transects that were near (within 50 m) or far (200 m) from the railway. Relative to far ones, near transects had 2.4 times more squirrel sightings, but similar numbers of squirrel middens. Among 15 middens in which agricultural products were found, 14 were near the rail and 4 subsequently exhibited evidence of bear digging. Remote cameras confirmed the presence of squirrels on the rail and bears excavating middens. We speculate that obtaining grain from squirrel middens encourages bears to seek grain on the railway, potentially contributing to their rising risk of collisions with trains.

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          Most cited references 34

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          Food supplementation experiments with terrestrial vertebrates: patterns, problems, and the future

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            Kleptoparasitism in birds

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              SEASONAL AND DIEL PATTERNS OF GRIZZLY BEAR DIET AND ACTIVITY IN WEST-CENTRAL ALBERTA

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                August 30 2017
                August 30 2017
                : 21
                : 1-14
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.21.12429
                © 2017

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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