To help you destress and focus your attention on something positive, here comes another round of good nature news ...

The Bear Cams are back!

Wildlife webcam operators at have officially turned on the Brooks River cameras! Affectionately known as "bear cams," they allow worldwide online audiences to watch the bruins as they take advantage of sockeye salmon that have journeyed upstream. Over the next few months, the bears will fatten up before their lengthy winter hibernation. Thousands of people flock to see the bears around this time each year but, due to the current pandemic, the area will be quieter than usual, allowing timid individuals that are typically too scared to approach the river to fish or seek mates there this year.

Many of these bears are internet famous – such as bear 856, who is the King of this region – and both rangers and the public eagerly await to see what antics will be captured this year. Keep up with them via the bear cams and make sure to vote for the fattest bear!

A collaboration for cougar science

Researchers studying mountain lions (or cougars as they are locally called in the Pacific northwest) have teamed up with tribes in western Washington State through a multi-national collaborative effort to better understand the population of big cats in the area. The Olympic Cougar Project, is a collaboration that includes Panthera and the Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam, Makah, Port Gamble S’Klallam, and Skokomish tribes. By better knowing the abundance of cougars, deer, elk, and other species on the peninsula, the project not only helps strengthens the cougar population in the area, but may also determine how many deer and elk are in the tribes’ historic use area to allow for the tribes to sustainably hunt them there.

An intimate look at M16, a male puma being followed as part of the new Olympic Cougar Project.
Scottish seals are now protected and robotic seals are helping combat loneliness

The Humane Society International (HSI) has announced that Scotland has banned seal shooting by the fisheries industry. Scottish Parliament recently approved the bill, which amends the Marine Scotland Act, repeals seal shooting licenses, and increases the penalty for illegal seal shooting to 12 months and a £40,000 fine. "We share our seas with these charismatic marine mammals, and it is simply unacceptable to kill them for eating the fish in their ocean home," said Humane Society International’s Senior Marine Scientist Mark Simmonds OBE in a statement. "HSI has worked for many years to provide the solid scientific evidence needed to demonstrate the welfare impact on seals, so it is really excellent news that Scottish lawmakers have listened and put an end to the licensed seal cull in order to protect them from this cruelty." 

Across the ocean, healthcare workers in the USA are relying on robotic baby harp seals to help their COVID-19 patients fight loneliness. Built by PARO Robots, the website says not only can the robots imitate the voice of a real baby harp seal but they are able to "reduce patient stress, stimulate interactions between patients and caregivers, and improve socialisation." They come at a steep price – $6,000 each – but apparently, they are a hit since the pandemic has isolated us from human-to-human contact. "Since we can’t have human interaction right now it’s certainly a lot better than nothing," MIT robotics ethicist Kate Darling told Wired. 

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Top header image: Dan Hutcheson, Flickr