15 Feb 2009

Eagles Take Bear Cubs

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bear and bald eagle

Accounts of eagles carrying off lambs are sometimes discounted by skeptics, and stories of eagles posing a predation threat to small children have long provoked derision. Eagles just aren’t bold enough or strong enough, the experts will tell you.

One wonders if this article in Ursus, the journal of the International Association for Bear Research and Management won’t cause some to reconsider their views.


During spring 2004 an adult female brown bear (Ursus arctos) and her 3 cubs-of-the-year were observed outside their den on a south-facing low-alpine slope in central Norway. They remained near the den for 8–10 days and were, except for one day, observed daily by Totsås and other wardens of the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate. On 25 April, as the family was moving along the edge of a steep, treeless slope and down a snowdrift, the smallest cub, at the back of the group, was attacked by a golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). The cub vocalized loudly as it was lifted off the ground and carried away. The eagle was still carrying the cub when it flew into cloud cover and was lost from view. Although no remains were found, it is probable that the eagle killed the cub. This paper describes the circumstances of the incident and relates it to other observations of attacks by eagles on young bears in Europe and North America.

Hat tip to Cat Urbigkit via Karen L. Myers.

One Feedback on "Eagles Take Bear Cubs"

William Tobey

I am interested in obtaining the right to use your eagle and bear photo for the cover of an academic publication. I work at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Thank you.


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