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Hungry bears preying on more reindeer calves: study

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Hungry bears preying on more reindeer calves: study
13:33 CEST+02:00
A single bear in northern Sweden has killed more than 30 reindeer calves, leading researchers to conclude that the bear is more of a reindeer predator than previously thought.

The female bear named Jovva, based south of Jokkmokk in northern Sweden, has devoured 32 calves so far this year.

Jovva is one of several bears under scientific observation in order to gain a better understanding of predator damage to reindeer.

“Bears probably take more calves than previously thought," Jens Karlsson, a researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet), told the TT news agency.

Karlsson is a participant in the multi-year study aimed at obtaining additional knowledge of predator damage to reindeer.

According to reindeer herder Rune Stokke, from the Sámi reindeer herding community of Udtja, bears eat up to half of reindeer calves during the summer months.

“This is something we've always known,” Stokker told Canadian-based circumpolar news source Eyes on The Arctic (EOTA).

Although researchers can already see that up to half of newborn calves fall victim to bears, Stokke, the forest community's chairman, puts it into financial terms.

"When we butcher during the autumn, half the calves are missing," he told EOTA.

"This means losses of about one million kronor ($158,000), and that's a lot of money."

Nine bears and 2,000 female deer have transmitters that enable researchers to count the number of reindeer killed.

Sweden's largest predator, the brown bear, can weigh up to 350kg and eats mainly berries, ants and shrubs, but may also hunt voles and salmon.

The brown bear hibernates during the winter, and cubs are born every two or three years.

Sweden has around 2,500 bears in the wild.

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