Bears aren’t attracted to menstruation, a Yellowstone National Park report found, putting an end to an urban legend that is more than 50 years old.
The report, which came out earlier this year but was posted online this week, is clearing up the misconception that started after the death of two female campers and gained steam in 2004 when it was famously repeated in the movie Anchorman .
The urban legend that bears are attracted to menstruation has some sad origins, the New York Daily News reported. Two women camping at Glacier National Park were killed by bears in 1967, prompting many people to believe that the bears smelled menstruation and attacked.
From them on the Park Service warned campers that bears could be attracted to the smell of women on their periods. But this year Yellowstone decided to clear up the matter, pulling together a number of past reports to prove once and for all that menstruating women are not a target for bears.
Believe it or not, there were actually a number of studies done on the matter. In 1985 scientists studied hundreds of grizzly bears and found out that there was nothing to support the theory that they were attracted to menstruation. A follow-up study in 1991 found that black bears “ignored” the scent of four menstruating women who were using tampons.
In fact, the only finding at all the even came close to supporting the urban legend came in 1983, when scientists found that bears responded strongly to the smell of used tampons — and then ate them. But anyone who has ever had a nosy dog probably already knows that.
“The question whether menstruating women attract bears has not been completely answered,” the report concluded, though acknowledging that bears aren’t attracted to menstruation any more than any other scent.
With the bear menstruation urban legend busted, maybe not scientists can turn their attention to the question of whether Pop Rocks and soda really do explode in your mouth.