One of the best parts about joining the project was assisting in the radio-collaring of black bears. Working on a noninvasive sampling study means we rarely see animals, with most of our "encounters" finding the evidence of an animal being there long before we were. With this study, we collected hair samples and monitored camera traps, so while we often watched hilarious bear videos and too many raccoon or armadillo videos, it was really a treat to get our hands on living, breathing bears. After all, they're the stars of this project! Clay wants to know how many there are in southern Missouri and where so we can protect their populations and encourage connectivity and positive wildlife management. With that, here are some bear photos:
Two traps, two bears! The big guy is in the white drum, while the lady bear is in the larger unit. They were most likely traveling separately and arrived at the traps at separate times. The bears were lured into the trap with none other than stale doughnuts... I know, they get me every time, too.
Taking morphometric measurements includes overall body length, girth, tail length, leg length, and even foot and toe length
A very large male American black bear being fitted with a radio collar for the second time (he slipped his first one, the tricky bugger!).
How many guys does it take to weigh a bear? A lot! This male weighed 390 lbs! Before winter of last year, he was 475 lbs... all gained for hibernation in winter. The bear is still anesthetized. Notice I'm not helping.
The lady bear was already fit with a radio collar, so there was no need to anesthetize her. Here, she waits calmly and somewhat curiously for us to lift the trap door. Note: bears are not friendly! Never approach one!
The black bear doesn't have claws as long as it's cousin, the grizzly bear, but they are still very dexterous with their paws.
The hair snare crew! This bear was the biggest one I have ever seen- I had a hard time lifting his head! His tongue kept lolling out as a result of the drug, which just isn't polite for a photo, so I stuck my hand in his mouth to tuck it in (but he popped it out for our group pic).
Measuring her chest girth.
An older, chocolate brown female black bear who was very pretty. The name doesn't imply the color, as black bears vary from shades of brown to black to cinnamon, and individuals may even change coat color throughout the year. Again, she is anesthetized in this photo, but she is starting to come around.
During bear captures, one of the things this project does is remove a vestigial tooth- one leftover from evolution and useless to the animal. The underdeveloped canine is removed to age the animal, use for genetic identification, and in a female's case, determine how many parturitions (births) she's had. How cool is that?!
Our little "teenage" black bear male. Estimated to be just over one year, he weighed 150 lbs (but doesn't look like it!). Here, Mat was pouring water over the anesthetized bear because one of the side effects of the drug is losing the ability to thermoregulate. It was a very hot summer and the last thing anyone wants is the drug causing harm (or death) to an animal.
Honestly, is there anything more adorable? He is young and will face many challenges in his life, and he will never be friendly, but I love this photo because it's simply a soft, wild moment (albeit drug induced).
There goes that funny side effect with the tongue again! It has to be frustrating.
How does this photo make you feel?