Spectacled Bear successes and challenges

A few days ago one of our rangers  filmed this large male Spectacled Bear in cultivated fields near his village, close to our Naturetrek Reserve.

[Traduccion en espanol abajo]

This year we have been thrilled to see a dramatic increase in Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) sightings around our Naturetrek, Cerro Candelaria, and Machay reserves, which together form the “Forests in the Sky” wildlife corridor between the Llanganates and Sangay national parks. We have been protecting these bears and their habitat for ten years now, and apparently we have been quite successful.

However, this brings new challenges as bears and people  begin to compete for the same food. As one example, bears love the corn that the local people grow, and they can systematically destroy a farmer’s crop, as we showed in this camera-trap video:

In the last few weeks we have heard reports of a more serious conflict, perhaps with the big male bear filmed in the video at the top of this post. The reports, which are not confirmed, blame bears for killing several calves. There was one well-known case of a rogue Spectacled Bear killing calves in northern Ecuador a few years ago, and I have seen a camera-trap photo of a Spectacled Bear attacking a grown Mountain Tapir, so this is not impossible, though it is very rare. Our rangers are investigating these reports. If they turn out to be true, we have a challenging problem on our hands. The owners of these calves are not big ranchers with hundreds of head; these are poor individuals with only a handful of cows at any one time.A calf is a very big deal for its owner, not something whose loss can be easily absorbed.

On the other hand, many reports elsewhere of cattle deaths due to bears have been based on circumstantial evidence and may have actually been cases of scavenging bears. For now, we can only gather the facts as carefully as possible. We hope that these latest reports will prove to be unfounded….I’ll write more when we know more facts.

Lou Jost, EcoMinga Foundation


Oso de anteojos, logros y retos
Video 01 – Hace unos pocos días, uno de nuestros guardias filmó este gran macho de Oso de Anteojos en campos cultivados cerca de su pueblo, junto a nuestra Reserva Naturetrek
Este año hemos estado encantados de ver un incremento dramático en avistamientos del Oso de anteojos (Tremarctos ornatus)  cerca de nuestras reservas Naturetrek, Cerro Candelaria, y Machay, las cuales en conjunto forman el corredor de vida silvestrie “Forests in the Sky” (Bosques en en Cielo) entre los parques nacionales Llanganates y Sangay. Hemos estado protegiendo estos osos y su hábitat desde hace diez años, y aparentemente hemos sido bastante exitosos.
De cualquier manera, esto trae nuevos retos conforme los osos y las personas comienzan a competir por la misma cominda. Como un ejemplo, los osos aman el maíz que la gente local cultiva, y pueden destruir sistemáticamente una plantación de un granjero, como mostramos en este video de cámara trampa:
En las últimas semanas hemos escuchado informes de un conflicto más serio, tal vez con el gran oso macho filmado en el video en la parte superior de esta publicación. El informe, que no está confirmado, acusa a los osos por matar varios terneros. Hubo un caso bien conocido de un pícaro oso de anteojos matando terneros en el norte de Ecuador hace unos pocos años, y yo he visto las fotos de una cámara trampa de un oso de anteojos atacando a un tapir de montaña, así que no es imposible, pero es muy raro. Nuestros guardias están investigando estos informes. Si resultan ser ciertos, tenemos un problema desafiante en nuestras manos. Los dueños de estos terneros no son grandes ganaderos con centenares de cabezas; son individuos pobres con solo un puñado de vacas a la vez. Un ternero es un gran  inversion, ​no algo cuya pérdida pueda ser fácilmente absorbida.
Por otro lado, muchos informes en otras partes de m,uerte de ganado debido a osos se han basado en evidencia circunstancial y de hecho pueden haber sido casos de osos carroñeros. Por ahora, solo podemos recopilar los hechos tan cuidadosamente como sea posible. Esperamos que estos últimos reportes demuestren ser infundados… Escribiré más cuando sepamos más hechos.
Lou Jost, Fundación EcoMinga
Traducción: Salomé Solórzano Flores

2 thoughts on “Spectacled Bear successes and challenges

  1. Hi Lou,
    It’s so nice to hear of this update on your reserves that I have helped support!
    Only the first video played on my iPad but it was good footage, btw.

    While I am only familiar with North American black bear and grizzly bear behavior, if spectacled bears have the potential for deadly human conflict, perhaps this individual should be trapped, tranquilizer, and relocated deeper within the preserve if a territory has not been claimed by another male. This would involve great time and effort as you know but might be the bear’s best chance. I understand that local farmers might shoot on sight even if there is no evidence of direct conflict. Another option I’ve heard of successfully used is to safely ward away a top level predator by the use of firecrackers, urine, any distraction makers that send an alarm so the animal can move away.

    I’m sure you know of these techniques and may hopefully have access to a bear biologist in Ecuador.
    Good luck and let’s hope this male bear has a safe life for all involved!
    Thanks for all your hard work,

  2. Pingback: Bear update and puma problems too | Fundacion EcoMinga

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