The long-standing king of Alaska’s Brooks River, Bear 856, killed a recently born cub along the river bank on July 3.
The killing event of a cub, or infanticide, happened beyond view of the bear cams situated near the river’s waterfall, where salmon collect and bears congregate, so streamed footage of the lurid event wasn’t captured. However, the killing was photographed and confirmed by rangers as well as former Katmai National Park ranger Mike Fitz, who has returned to the river to report on bear activity for explore.org, which operates the wildlife cameras. . .
Global viewers of the bear cam most often watch bears catching fish, sleeping, or exploring the river with their cubs. The bear world, however, can be quite violent, and infanticide events are not unknown — there have been 13 documented cases in 35 years at the Brooks River. In recent years, the killings have been witnessed by rangers, who’ve heard the yelps of a dying cub.
It’s not fully understood why large males sometimes kill cubs, though there are compelling theories, detailed below. In this case, the event began when rangers watched Bear 856 assert his dominance by chasing another male bear (Bear 634) out of the river.
There are three leading theories, detailed by Katmai National Park. The first is that a male bear’s killing of a female’s cub or cubs will force her back into heat, whereby she might be receptive to mating again. A nursing female, with newly born and helpless spring cubs, won’t go into heat. Forcing a female back into heat may give that male bear more mating opportunities, and accordingly, increased opportunities to spread his genes. (Read more from “Bear Cam Cub Gets Killed by a Powerful Male Bear. Why?” HERE)