While North American bears may mistake the occasional trail camera for a chew toy, their southern Andean neighbors are keen on seeking out and destroying these devices where they can find them. The destruction of the camera traps has thrown a wrench into the efforts of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) in Bolivia. The team was studying Andean bears in the Apolobamba National Natural Area, which the WCS considers to be one of the most biologically diverse protected areas on the planet. It seems that the bears did not appreciate the attention, and returned the favor by wrecking the team’s remote cameras.
“Andean bears are very curious animals,” regional WCS director Dr. Lilian Painter said in a statement. “But they are also very strong, and the cameras are like big flashing toys. Still we were able to record important images that will allow us to better understand their distribution, abundance and behavior, and conserve these delightful bears into the future.”
Andean bears are the only bear species living in Latin America, and they are wildly different from their North American cousins. Also called the spectacled bears due to the lighter coloring across its face, the Andean bear is among South America’s largest predators. Despite this, only a small portion of the bear’s diet consists of meat. In fact, the spectacled bear ranks only behind the panda as the most herbivorous bear species. Andean bears are capable climbers and use trees as both avenues of retreat and sources of food. They are generally smaller than or of equal size to American black bears.