Hunting Law in Sweden Changes Brown Bears’ Parenting Behavior

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. lengthen / ˈlɛŋk θən / (v) – to make something longer

    The hours of daylight lengthen every summer compared to winter.

  2. adapt / əˈdæpt / (v) – to adjust in order to fit a situation

    It takes a while before I adapt to a new environment.

  3. selective / sɪˈlɛk tɪv / (adj) – related to choosing and keeping some while rejecting others

    The farm uses selective breeding and chooses only the best animals to breed new ones.

  4. rear / rɪər / (v) – to take care of and raise a young child or animal

    For many species of birds, both parents rear their children together.

  5. compensate / ˈkɒm pənˌseɪt / (v) – to have something positive to make up for something negative

    Bats’ excellent sense of hearing compensate for their bad night vision.


Read the text below.

Female brown bears in Sweden are now staying with their cubs longer than they did before, according to a research.

A team of researchers from Norway and Canada analyzed 22 years’ worth of data on Scandinavian brown bears. The data revealed that the time mother bears spent with their cubs lengthened to 30 months, which is 12 months more than the length of time they spent 20 years ago.

The researchers suspect that the bears may have adapted their child-rearing behavior to hunting laws in Sweden. In the country, it is legal to hunt bears without needing any license, but hunters are forbidden from shooting bears that are with their cubs.

One of the researchers said that the law possibly had a selective effect on the bears—those that spent less time with their cubs were more likely to be killed by hunters, leaving bears that reared their cubs longer to breed and reproduce.

The change in the bears’ child-rearing behavior caused a drop in their birth rate. This is because bears that stay longer with their cubs do not breed as quickly as bears who spend less time with their young. However, according to the research, a higher survival rate among both mothers and their cubs compensated for this decrease.

Currently, the bear population in Sweden is steady, so authorities think that hunting brown bears in the country can be sustained. However, the bears were once classified as an endangered species. In 2015, brown bears were in the Swedish Species Information Centre’s red watchlist—a list that names species that are threatened by extinction. The center said that the main reason for the threat was hunting.


Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that researchers should also analyze other bear species? Explain.
• What else do you think can be done to sustain the high survival rate of bears?

Discussion B

• Do you think anti-hunting laws should be limited to endangered species or should it cover all animals? Discuss.
• In your opinion, which animal laws should be prioritized in your country (e.g. animal protection, anti-animal testing, etc.)? Discuss.