Nevada – As a result of the recent killing of three bears at Lake Tahoe from the same mother bear, scientists have brought back the debate regarding the role of “nature” and “nurture”, but this time they are focusing on the influence of these roles in black bears from Yosemite National Park, central Florida and the Adirondacks Park.
Green 108 is the name given to the 19-year-old female bear seized five times since 2004 and finally put down as a safety measure a week ago. Its offsprings have been killed for the same reason: being a threat to public safety after being found rummaging through garbage at inhabited houses.
“She’s just kind of a chronic, nuisance-type bear,” said Carl Lackey, a wildlife biologist for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, who was also a coauthor of a 2008 study published in the Journal of Mammalogy. “She’s always been getting into trash, always been in the same area. We’ve captured several litters of hers. We’ve captured her several times.” the biologist added.
Nature or nurture
Psychology has long had the debate concerning particular aspects of behavior that are a product of either genetic or learned characteristics in human and animal behaviors. Nature is taken as the influence of genetics and other biological factors, while nurture is the behavior resulting from external factors such as experience or learning.
Back in 1989, a study conducted by National Park Service researchers showed that inconvenient behaviors found in bears are a result of its genes, but researchers could not tell if the bad behaviors were in the bears’ genes or if young cubs learned them from their parents.
Later on, in 2008, a study made by Rachel Mazur and Victoria Seher, researchers at Yosemite’s Division of Resources Management, came to the conclusion that a mother bear can pass down her behavior to her offspring, especially the skill of “food-conditioned foraging” (rummaging for food in human environments), but by educating them to do so. What they observed “sows pushing cubs into buildings and vehicles to retrieve food rewards”.
However, that same year a study published in the Journal of Mammalogy concluded that genetics alone could not explain inconvenient behaviors in black bears, for humans can provoke it. Chris Healy, a Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman, has stated many times that these behaviors are a result of bears becoming dependent on trash as a food source.
Source: The New York Times