Marsican brown bear
Ursus arctos marsicanus
Classe: Mammals (Mammalia)
Order: Carnivorans (Carnivora)
Family: Ursidae (Ursidae)
Dimensions: Adult males weigh 100-150 kilograms on average (females are smaller) and can be up to 150-180 cm long
Life: 35-40 years
Woods are the most important habitat for bears. There they can find refuge, quiet and food. However, it is not uncommon for bears to reach high altitude grasslands or cultivated areas on valley floors.
Being omnivores (i.e. feeding on both animals and vegetation), bears can adapt themselves to diverse habitats, provided they are quiet and safe.
Bears are omnivores, that is to say that they eat both plants and animals, although 80% of their diet is made up of vegetation. Their food varies according to what nature has to offer in the various seasons: berries, insects and larvae, honey, carcasses of animals.
Reproduction: The bear’s mating season begins in May. Both males and females can mate with more than one individual during a single season: cubs from the same litter can thus have different fathers.
Cubs: in February, during winter dormancy, females give birth to one to three cubs. They weigh less than 500 grams at birth, and depend completely on the mother. Thanks to their mother’s milk, which is particularly rich in fats, cubs rapidly grow up and are ready for weaning in the summer. Pups stay with their mother longer than one year.
Curiosities: Bears have a very well-developed sense of hearing, and their excellent sense of smell helps them finding food. Their sight, on the other hand, is quite mediocre.
A bear’s growl is called “ruglio” in Italian.
Notes: When the temperature starts decreasing and food becomes scarcer, bears search for a dry and safe refuge to spend the winter. In the den they become dormant to cope with low temperatures and lack of food. It is not a full hibernation: unlike other species, bears maintain a good reactivity to external changes, and they can even get out of the den on fine winter days. During this period they do not nourish themselves, and survive by burning the fat they accumulated during autumn, and which serves both as energy reserve and thermal insulation.
In the Park: The brown marsican bear is the symbol of the Abruzzo National Park. It is a subspecies, which is genetically different from alpine bears, and is thus endemic to Central Italy. Recent scientific researches have estimated a population of about 40 individuals within the Park territory and surrounding areas.
Marsican brown bear
(photo by: Valentino Mastrella)