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On-line version ISSN 2007-3364


FIGUEROA, Judith. Human-Andean bear Tremarctos ornatus interaction in Peru: consumption of crops and predation on livestock. Therya [online]. 2015, vol.6, n.1, pp.251-278. ISSN 2007-3364.


The Andean bear Tremarctos ornatus has been hunted since the Inca times primarily because it was considered to be a pest that preyed on vicuñas and guanacos. Later, with the arrival of the Spaniards and the subsequent implementation of cattle ranching bears exploited this new and abundant food source. This resulted in a strong negative attitude of people towards the bear as they were perceived to be preying upon cattle and they did not take into consideration the fact that bears may have just been scavenging on carcasses. In addition, the expansion of cornfields in the area resulted in more incidences of bears raiding crops. Reports of these negative interactions continue to date. This paper utilizes extensive surveys, based on interviews with farmers, in order to learn how, when and where these interactions occur, as well as to understand their perception about bears. Moreover, knowledge of these interactions in the mitigation of other ursid species and experiences in other countries are discussed.


Fifty communities in 12 regions of Peru, located in neighboring areas or buffer zones of 16 protected areas with records of the Andean bear were visited between 2002 and 2008. Three hundred and ten personal interviews were conducted mainly with hunters, farmers and ranchers. A semi-estructured interview was carried out in which the following basic questions were queried: date, time, place and type of interaction (livestock or crop), record type (observation, traces), crop species eaten or species of preyed animal, event description (solitary or groups of bears entering the fields, ages of bears, etc.) and reason for killing the bear.


Eighty six records of bear kills were obtained in 66 villages of the 16 protected areas that were evaluated. A large proportion of the people interviewed (60.8 %) said that they had killed a bear and 48.5 % of them said that they killed the bear because they considered it to be detrimental to the crops and 42.2 % of them considered them detrimental to the livestock. Twelve types of crops were reported to be consumed by bears and maize was the one most frequently consumed (n = 150, 93.3 %). In addition, five species of livestock were consumed and cattle (bovine) was preyed the most frequently (n = 131, 95.9 %). The frequency and types of attacks were highly variable, mostly conducted by solitary adult males bears. Thirteen people claimed to have seen a total of ten attacks, giving a detailed description, while three people commented that they only observed scavenging behavior.


Corn crop raiding by Andean bears is an opportunistic event, because it is a food with high levels of energy and protein, and crops are within easy access to premontane and montane forest and adjacent areas. Furthermore, although there are studies that confirm bear predation on cattle in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia, to date, studies on this had not been undertaken in Peru. However, 13 people provided very detailed information about their observations, which agreed with other studies in other countries, confirming that bear predation on cattle also occurs in Peru. Since both events are a strong motive to hunt Andean bears, it would be important to conduct research in order to determine the reasons why some bears prey on livestock and raid crops. Further work needs to be conducted in close collaboration with the local communities in order to raise appropriate mitigation measures taking into consideration the conditions of each place, in order to reduce human-bear conflicts and therefore diminish the hunting of this species.

Keywords : Andean bear; conservation; consumption of crops; hunting; livestock depredation; mitigation; Peru.

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