Follow your nose for romanceā€¦..

How do amorous bears signal to one another that they are looking for a partner? Bears see the world best through their noses, and so for a grizzly, scent marking is the best way to communicate such information. As they come into estrus, females release sex hormones through their urine and feces, which males can smell miles away. The males communicate their intentions (perhaps: “back off” to other males or “come hither” to females) through rubbing on mark trees, and/or visiting specific muddy wallows used by many males. The full message of male bear scent marking is not completely understood.

After finding each other and mating for the first time, breeding pairs may stay together for a few days, or, depending upon the possessiveness of the male, a few weeks. During this time, they will copulate several more times. Dominant males will mate with many other females during breeding season. The females may mate with other males as well. Competition between males over the attentions of a particular female occurs regularly at this time of year. Much of this competition is simply display and posturing, but occasionally the encounters do indeed get physical. Such encounters are very intense and can leave many scars or be fatal.

When estrus ends, however, the romance and the drama end, and the males and females go their separate ways. Males make no contribution to parenting other than their initial donation of gametes.

Check back next month for another interesting wildlife fact.