The conservation department has launched a four-year high-technology study of what bears do in the woods.
The department has noticed more bear sightings and more incidents involving bears and vehicles. It wants to be able to forecast bear population growth. But it has to learn how long they live, when they first breed and how long the cubs live, and how many males and females there are.
Ten bears already are wearing collars with GPS sending units attached. Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer thinks understanding breeding patterns is one key. He says the system will let scientists find where females “den-up” and give birth, letting scientists understand how the population will increase in coming years.
Next summer researchers will set up hair snares to capture DNA, giving them even more information about bear family trees, age, sex, and health. Beringer says this is the largest, most technologically-advanced bear population study ever done.
In the end, he says, it should help the department decide when to establish a bear season.