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Dancing bears filmed in the Majella National Park! How rubbing behavior helps achieving LIFE ARCPROM objectives

Here are the extraordinary and funny images “captured” by a camera trap in the Majella National Park showing an Apennine brown bear “dancing” around a tree!
This sub-adult bear is actually rubbing on a pine tree where it probably smelled other bears scent and wanted to leave its own as well. Rubbing is a behavior showed by bears in their entire range and still it is not fully known and understood. Adult males rub more than adult females and sub-adults and they all rub more during the mating season. However, bears of different sex and age do rub during all the seasons revealing that this behavior is more than “just” mating-related. It seems that bears actually communicate with other bears through rubbing, thus exchanging information about their presence.
This behavior, beyond revealing interesting features of bear ecology, is particularly valuable for field biologists: while rubbing bears leave hairs on the trees and these can be collected as genetic samples to investigate about bear presence. That’s what’s happening in the Majella National Park, Central Italy, where the collection of genetic samples foreseen in Action A2 of the Life ARCPROM started in July using rub trees and applying other opportunistic collection methods as well. Samples analysis will allow the assessment of the number, sex and eventually parenthood of bears present in the area, an essential information to monitor and plan actions to preserve this critically endangered subspecies.