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Alaska's grizzly bears are becoming vegetarians

Grizzly bears are choosing to go vegetarian as they are increasingly forced to pick between salmon and berries, The Independent reports.

Typically, brown bears on Alaska's Kodiak Island eat salmon through roughly August, then switch to feeding on elderberries that grow in late August and early September when the fish leave the rivers. Researchers writing for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences observed that as Alaska gets warmer due to climate change, the elderberries are growing as early as July — and Kodiak bears are choosing to leave behind salmon-rich streams to forage instead for the tiny red treats.

While bears will continue to depend on salmon for energy in the coming years, "this prey-switching behavior attenuated an iconic predator-prey interaction and likely altered the many ecological functions that result from bears foraging on salmon," the researchers wrote. "If these trends continue, by 2070, the average onset of berry availability would occur during the average peak of salmon availability."