A baby black bear cub was found dead on Monday in Manhattan's Central Park by a woman walking her dog. The bear had trauma to her body, but the cause of her death still remains a mystery.
The story lit up the internet, with shocked reactions from various media sites. The cub's death is puzzling and tragic. But perhaps even more heartbreaking is the story of the bears who came before her in the area - all of whom have fallen to the same fate.
When deciding how to estimate what used to live in an area, scientists and cartologists must rely on historic maps, preserved letters, computer models and other resources. In order to do this in New York, the Wildlife Conservation Society launched the Mannahatta Project in 2010. The project aimed to create the landscape ecology present in the boroughs of New York City when the first Europeans arrived there in 1609.
Using this data, scientists can give estimates as to the likelihood that certain species lived in certain places. According to the data, it's likely that American black bears (Ursus Americanus) did in fact roam the island of Manhattan in 1609 - long before there were streets to walk down. The book "Mannahatta" includes this passage: