The bears are hibernating but soon they’ll have to eat

It’s winter in much of the world, which means colder weather.  Sometimes snow is involved.

Snow is what makes me think of hibernating bears.  And how when they wake up they’ll be hungry.

And that reminded me of this research that found that we humans need predators such as bears, and wolves, cougars mountain lions, and so on, to live.

Why?  How?

William Ripple, a professor of forestry at Oregon State University, co-wrote a report that explains:

“We now have  that large predators are hugely important in the function of nature, from the deepest oceans to the highest mountains, the tropics to the Arctic…These predators and processes ultimately protect humans. This isn’t just about them, it’s about us.”


What does this mean?

Their study was set in Yellowstone National Park where they saw that when wolves were no longer a danger to elk, elk ate a lot more young (and therefore easy to eat!) aspen trees.

More elk = fewer aspen trees.

Enter the beaver.  Beavers cut down trees and make dams, directing water in ways that benefit the area.

But fewer aspen trees = fewer beavers.  Which means the whole neighborhood was changing.

Trees are very good at capturing and storing Carbon Dioxide, known by cool people as CO2.  With fewer trees capturing the CO2 the more of it stays in the environment, which is not good for anyone.