Video released this week by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife shows a black bear in Okanogan County, rubbing its back against a tree. The video was recorded on Sept. 21.

 There's no itch as far as the bears' habit of rubbing their back against trees is concerned. In fact, this has been found to be a scent mark, warning others to keep off from the real master of the place.

Many theories tried to explain this habit. Some believed females could do it when they were at the peak of their fertility, while others thought that bears just attempt to cover their backs in sap, employed as insect repellent.

But a new two-year research of grizzlies in British Columbia employing digital cameras to gather information on which bears employed the trees for rubbing and when (the same rub trees can be used for generations, so there's no difficulty in observing this behavior). Satellite equipment also monitored the bears' individual movement.

"The cameras show that adult male bears are the most likely to rub trees, and the satellite telemetry tells us that males move from valley to valley in large loops, marking trees as they go, while looking for breeding females," said author Owen Nevin, ecologist of the University of Cumbria.

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