Sexually selected infanticide or predation? Killing and consumption of a female brown bear in a male infanticide attempt


Sexually selected infanticides (SSI) committed by male bears during the mating season has attracted a great research attention, although this type of behavior has been rarely observed in the wild. Here, we document a bear infanticide attempt in the Cantabrian Mountains in which the male killed the adult female during the fight and, subsequently, consumed the carcass for several days. Interestingly, in this case, the bear male tried to reach the cub with the apparent intention of killing it, even though the female was already dead. We complement this observation with data on documented cases of SSI events between 1996 and 2020 in the Cantabrian Mountains. We hypothesize that when females are unintentionally killed while defending their cubs in SSI events, males can benefit by feeding on the carcasses.

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FOP rangers Elías Suárez and Luis Fernández have collaborated intensively in the monitoring, together with rangers and technicians of Asturias regional government. J.V.L.B. was supported by a Ramon & Cajal research contract (RYC-2015-18932) from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.

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Correspondence to J. V. López-Bao.

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Ballesteros, F., Palomero, G., Blanco, J.C. et al. Sexually selected infanticide or predation? Killing and consumption of a female brown bear in a male infanticide attempt. Eur J Wildl Res 67, 17 (2021).

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  • Brown Bear
  • Cantabrian Mountains
  • Sexually selected infanticide