‘Yetis’ are Asian bears


This video says about itself:

Yeti, Bigfoot debunked: DNA reveals the bear facts

2 July 2014

An international team of researchers working on the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project has analyzed DNA evidence from samples of hair sent to them as possible evidence of the creature commonly referred to as Bigfoot.

Cryptozoology is the study of animals that people claim exist, but haven’t yet been proven to be real, like Bigfoot, which pops up in various forms among different cultures around the world.

This study has debunked all of the samples from across the United States, Russia, and other countries after comparing them with DNA sequences cataloged by GenBank.

Animals that matched the samples included cows, horses, bears, sheep, porcupine, deer, canidae like coyotes, wolves or dogs, a serow, a human, and a raccoon which was found in Russia, significantly outside of the animal’s supposed natural range.

From the University at Buffalo in the USA:

Abominable Snowman? Nope — study ties DNA samples from purported Yetis to Asian bears

New paper shows how science can explore the roots of folklore

November 28, 2017

Summary: The Yeti or Abominable Snowman — a mysterious, ape-like creature said to inhabit the high mountains of Asia — looms large in the mythology of Nepal and Tibet. Now, a new DNA study of purported Yeti samples from museums and private collections is providing insight into the origins of this Himalayan legend.

The Yeti or Abominable Snowman — a mysterious, ape-like creature said to inhabit the high mountains of Asia — looms large in the mythology of Nepal and Tibet.

Sightings have been reported for centuries. Footprints have been spotted. Stories have been passed down from generation to generation.

Now, a new DNA study of purported Yeti samples from museums and private collections is providing insight into the origins of this Himalayan legend.

The research, which will be published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, analyzed nine “Yeti” specimens, including bone, tooth, skin, hair and fecal samples collected in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. Of those, one turned out to be from a dog. The other eight were from Asian black bears, Himalayan brown bears or Tibetan brown bears.

“Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears, and our study demonstrates that genetics should be able to unravel other, similar mysteries,” says lead scientist Charlotte Lindqvist, PhD, an associate professor of biological sciences in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, and a visiting associate professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore).

Lindqvist’s team is not the first to research “Yeti” DNA, but past projects ran simpler genetic analyses, which left important questions unresolved, she says.

“This study represents the most rigorous analysis to date of samples suspected to derive from anomalous or mythical ‘hominid‘-like creatures,” Lindqvist and her co-authors write in their new paper. The team included Tianying Lan and Stephanie Gill from UB; Eva Bellemain from SPYGEN in France; Richard Bischof from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences; and Muhammad Ali Nawaz from Quaid-i-Azam University in Pakistan and the Snow Leopard Trust Pakistan program.

The science behind folklore

Lindqvist says science can be a useful tool in exploring the roots of myths about large and mysterious creatures.

She notes that in Africa, the longstanding Western legend of an “African unicorn” was explained in the early 20th century by British researchers, who found and described the flesh-and-blood okapi, a giraffe relative that looks like a mix between that animal and a zebra and a horse.

And in Australia — where people and oversized animals may have coexisted thousands of years ago — some scholars have speculated that references to enormous animal-like creatures in Australia’s Aboriginal “Dreamtime” mythology may have drawn from ancient encounters with real megafauna or their remains, known today from Australia’s fossil record.

But while such connections remain uncertain, Lindqvist’s work — like the discovery of the okapi — is direct: “Clearly, a big part of the Yeti legend has to do with bears”, she says.

She and colleagues investigated samples such as a scrap of skin from the hand or paw of a “Yeti” — part of a monastic relic — and a fragment of femur bone from a decayed “Yeti” found in a cave on the Tibetan Plateau. The skin sample turned out to be from an Asian black bear, and the bone from a Tibetan brown bear.

The “Yeti” samples that Lindqvist examined were provided to her by British production company Icon Films, which featured her in the 2016 Animal Planet special “YETI OR NOT,” which explored the origins of the fabled being.

Solving a scientific mystery, too: How enigmatic bears evolved

Besides tracing the origins of the Yeti legend, Lindqvist’s work is uncovering information about the evolutionary history of Asian bears.

“Bears in this region are either vulnerable or critically endangered from a conservation perspective, but not much is known about their past history,” she says. “The Himalayan brown bears, for example, are highly endangered. Clarifying population structure and genetic diversity can help in estimating population sizes and crafting management strategies.”

The scientists sequenced the mitochondrial DNA of 23 Asian bears (including the purported Yetis), and compared this genetic data to that of other bears worldwide.

This analysis showed that while Tibetan brown bears share a close common ancestry with their North American and Eurasian kin, Himalayan brown bears belong to a distinct evolutionary lineage that diverged early on from all other brown bears.

The split occurred about 650,000 years ago, during a period of glaciation, according to the scientists. The timing suggests that expanding glaciers and the region’s mountainous geography may have caused the Himalayan bears to become separated from others, leading to a prolonged period of isolation and an independent evolutionary path.

“Further genetic research on these rare and elusive animals may help illuminate the environmental history of the region, as well as bear evolutionary history worldwide — and additional ‘Yeti’ samples could contribute to this work,” Lindqvist says.

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Grizzly bears need overpasses to cross roads


This video from Canada says about itself:

13 June 2014

As you travel through Banff National Park animals are travelling too — over your roof and under your wheels. Wildlife crossing structures and highway fencing in Banff National Park have reduced large animal deaths by more than 80%. So which animals adopted crossing structures first? Who prefers overpasses versus underpasses? Find out here through the lens of a remote camera that captured five years of wildlife movement on an overpass in Banff National Park near Redearth Creek.

From the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus in Canada:

Family-friendly overpasses are needed to help grizzly bears, study suggests

Design of wildlife road crossings is crucial for protecting grizzlies

November 27, 2017

Researchers have determined how female grizzly bears keep their cubs safe while crossing the Trans-Canada Highway.

Adam Ford, Canada Research Chair in Wildlife Restoration Ecology at UBC‘s Okanagan campus, along with Montana State University‘s Tony Clevenger, studied the travel patterns of grizzlies in Banff National Park between 1997 and 2014. In most cases, a mother bear travelling with cubs opted to use a wildlife overpass instead of a tunnel to cross the highway.

“We used data from Canada’s longest and most detailed study of road-wildlife interactions,” explains Ford, an assistant professor of biology. “We found that grizzly bear females and cubs preferred to use overpasses to cross the highway.”

During the 17-year study period, bears not travelling in these family groups used both underpasses and overpasses. “You can’t just build a tunnel under a highway and expect to conserve bears,” says Ford. “Our work shows that the design of structures used to get bears across the road matters for reconnecting grizzly bear populations.”

The study looked at five different wildlife crossing structure designs distributed across 44 sites along a 100-km stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway. The structures are purpose-built bridges or tunnels to facilitate the safe movement of animals across roads. Tracking and motion-triggered cameras were used to monitor grizzly bear movement and Ford says all grizzly bears selected larger and more open structures like overpasses and open-span bridges, compared to tunnels and box culverts.

“Since adult females and cubs drive population growth, this research tells us that overpasses are needed to protect bears in roaded areas,” says Ford.

The study also documents the most cost-effective means to design highway mitigation. A common concern in conservation is how to allocate funding to bring the most effective gains for biodiversity. The researchers estimated the cost-effectiveness of structure designs and were surprised by the result.

“When we look at the population as a whole, there were a lot of passages made by males in box culverts, which is the cheapest type of structure to build,” explains Clevenger, stressing that a diversity of wildlife crossing structure designs along a highway is essential.

“It’s important to reduce the chances of adult males encountering cubs since the males will kill young bears,” Clevenger adds. “Creating both ‘bachelor’ and ‘family’-friendly designs will further help bear populations grow.”

This peer-reviewed study was published online this week in the Wildlife Society Bulletin.

Young black bear steals ball


This video from the USA says about itself:

17 August 2017

A young [black] bear searching for bird food on the deck can’t resist an Amazing Spider Man bounce ball – after all it says suitable for ages 3 and up! This young male bear is facing his first full summer on his own and is probably around 3 years old. He is still really a kid at heart after first ignoring the bounce ball he decides to take it after all. I found it later deflated with numerous tooth holes in it. Such a sweet bear, I hope he stays out of trouble.

Black bear at United States bird feeders


This video from the USA says about itself:

4 August 2017

Young male Black Bear now on his own makes a very rare daylight morning stop on the deck looking for food. Also a rare morning when the two trail cams are still running so we see the bear from three different cameras. Note the Eastern Towhees sounding the alarm callsBlue Jays are not a big presence here so the Towhees are sort of the Backyard Watchouts. I always put the bird food away at night and put it back up in morning – perhaps this bear is starting to figure that out. The fact that more bears have been showing up recently may mean that food is scarcer than usual up in the mountain forests. This should be berry-time!

Black bear cubs, other American animals


This camera trap video from North Carolina in the USA says about itself:

1 August 2017

A mother Black Bear and her two cubs visit Backyard North plus a guest visitor and a surprise close-up.

Vietnamese bear bile farms shut down


This video says about itself:

19 July 2017

Vietnam signs a Memorandum of Understanding to make bear bile farming illegal as it aims to eradicate the practice by 2020.

From AFP news agency:

Vietnam Agrees to Shut Down Illegal Bear Bile Farms

The government and a non-profit animal welfare organization agreed to rescue more than 1,000 bears from facilities that harvest bear bile, which is used in traditional medicine.

July 19, 2017

11:41 AM EDT

Vietnam agreed Wednesday to rescue more than 1,000 bears from illegal farms across the country, in a move to end the traditional medicine trade in the creatures’ bile.

Though bile farms are already outlawed in Vietnam, bears are still captured and caged in illicit facilities where their bile is extracted using invasive and painful techniques.

Vietnam’s Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST) and non-profit group Animals Asia signed an agreement Wednesday to rescue all remaining bears from farms, committing to end bile trade and close all facilities within five years.

“This is a truly historic day,” said Animals Asia CEO Jill Robinson at the signing in Hanoi, adding that the decision “will lead to the definitive end to bear bile farming here in Vietnam.”

Bear bile farming has been outlawed in Vietnam since 1992. But many bile farms use a legal loophole allowing them to raise the animals as pets.

There are about 1,200 bears in captivity in Vietnam today, down from more than 4,000 in 2005, caged in more than 400 bear farms across the country.

Animals Asia estimates it will cost up to $20 million to rescue and build enough sanctuaries to house the bears, and called on donors, companies, and the government to pitch in.

“We cannot do this by ourselves, the government needs to take responsibility for the wildlife in the country,” said Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam director for Animals Asia.

Officials said funding is the main hurdle to rescuing the bears and putting an end to the trade.

“We face difficulties finding funds to prevent and stop the hunting and rescue of wild animals,” VNFOREST deputy director Cao Chi Cong said.

Bendixsen warned that bile farms could move into neighbouring Laos or Cambodia, and urged countries to adhere to an international convention that bans cross-border bear and bile trading.

Wednesday’s agreement follows an announcement in 2015 from Vietnam’s Traditional Medicine Association to remove bear bile from its list of sanctioned prescriptions by 2020.

The bears are often kept in small cages, and their bile is ‘free dripped’ via a hole in the animal’s gall bladder or a catheter. Many are starved, dehydrated, wounded, and psychologically scarred when they are rescued.

Bear bile contains an acid which can help treat liver and gall bladder illnesses, though effective herbal alternatives are available.

Grizzly bear cubs on swimming mother’s back, video


This video says about itself:

Adorable Bear Cubs Hitch a Ride on Mom’s Back | National Geographic

4 July 2017

An onlooker recorded this precious scene of two grizzly bear cubs perched on top of their mother’s back as she swam across Lake Aleknagik in Wood Tikchick State Park, Alaska.