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Climate change blamed as bears give up hibernation

Earth News: Climate Change
Animal Behavior: Spain
Dec 21, 2006
Bears in Spain have stopped hibernating for the winter — and the cause could be climate change. Many of the 130 bears in Spain's northern mountains who usually sleep through the cold season are still active because milder weather means they have enough nuts and berries to survive. "It's an indication of what's to come. Climate change is impacting on the natural world. Hitherto the warming seemed to be happening fastest at the Poles — now we're getting examples of it happening further south." Animals that hibernate in winter are abandoning hibernation in yet another signal that something momentous is happening to the rhythms of the natural world. Hibernation has evolved for the same reason most animal behaviour has evolved - as a strategy to maximise survival. Some creatures that need a lot of energy to get around have learned to shut themselves down in winter, when the food to provide that energy is simply not available, or too much energy would be expended in searching for it. European brown bears in northern Spain are abandoning a survival strategy that has been successful. What if they give up hibernation because of rising winter temperatures, but then when they are active in winter, are unable to find enough food?

BRITAIN - They could hardly believe it when the first lamb of the season arrived this week. It was not what farmers expect in the middle of December. Usually the lambing season does not kick off until spring and the owner, who owns a farm near Hambledon, is convinced the climate is responsible for playing havoc with her sheep's hormones. 'Last year we had one on New Year's Eve but WE'VE NEVER HAD ONE AS EARLY AS THIS BEFORE. We've called her Tinsel...I think it's all to do with the climate changing. So much happened that we noticed was different last year. All the animals are confused.' She said her geese and turkeys have started laying eggs – whereas usually they start laying at Easter.

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