Think that bear bag of yours is safe? Better think again. Grizzly bears are capable of using objects in their environment as rudimentary tools to acquire food, a new study has found.
Researchers at Washington State University's Bear Research Education and Conservation Center gave eight grizzlies—five males, three female—the challenge of reaching a glazed donut dangling just out of reach in their enclosure. The scientists placed a stump underneath the treat to see if the bears would stand on it (spoiler: of course they did), then moved the stump aside to see if the bears would reposition it on their own. Sure enough, some—though not all—of the grizzlies succeeded in moving the stump back to where it was to retrieve a second donut.
"This study helps us understand something about the evolution of problem solving in bears and how it compares to other species, including humans. It helps us to understand the way bears think and perhaps how we might anticipate and alter our practices in backcountry places and campgrounds," [WSU professor O. Lynne] Nelson told the Associated Press.
We've always known that grizzlies are Ph.Ds when it comes to finding food, but the fact that they're able to manipulate the landscape now, too? That's some pretty advanced skill right there. So by all means, continue to hang bear bags. Just don't be surprised when a savvy grizzly drags a stepladder over to steal it.
Read more: CBC / Associated Press