AbstractHibernation is a key adaptation for coping with unfavorable climatic conditions and low food availability in areas with severe winter conditions. While understanding the physiology and phenology of this adaptation has received considerable attention, comparatively little information is available on how hibernation will be affected by changing climate conditions. We used GPS telemetry data from 20 free‐ranging brown bears monitored over 31 winters between 2007 and 2022, to identify behavioral strategies of bears during winter. We applied behavioral change point analysis to quantify brown bears’ hibernation phenology in a population close to the bear's southern latitudinal range limit in Europe where supplementary food is available to bears year‐round. We observed winter behavior patterns that varied across age and reproductive classes but also within individuals between winters. Among 31 winter events, we registered six cases in which bears exhibited a single hibernation/stationary period and 19 events where hibernation was split into up to five stationary periods. Moreover, six winter events did not show behaviors consistent with hibernation and individuals remained partly or completely active throughout winter. The movement of these active bears decreased with increasing snow depth. In addition, these winter‐active bears showed higher fidelity to supplementary feeding sites during the winter period compared to the rest of the year. Our data suggest that an abundance of human‐provided food resources during winter may facilitate the emergence of different wintering strategies in brown bears. Furthermore, supplemental feeding sites in combination with predicted mild winters and prolonged natural food availability suggest that the use of hibernation as an energy‐saving strategy to overcome severe environmental conditions may decrease in the future.

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