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Hunters: Be on the Lookout for DWR’s Research Bears

Bear being collared for the DWR research program

Bear being collared for the DWR research program

For the first time in over a decade, Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) biologists are radio-collaring adult female bears in Virginia. Data acquired through this project will provide new insights into the movements, denning habits, and home ranges of wild, female bears in unstudied areas of Virginia. Additionally, these female bears will provide a source of surrogate mothers for orphaned black bear cubs.

There are currently 10 adult females fitted with GPS radio-collars in portions of the Shenandoah Valley and in southcentral Virginia. GPS radio-collars are linked to satellites which transmit location data to the biologists. In addition to the 10 bears collared currently, another 10 will be deployed in 2017. Most all of these bears are expected to have cubs this winter. DWR is asking hunters to not harvest these radio-collared bears that are providing valuable information about movement and biology.

Using wild, female bears as surrogate mothers for orphan cubs has been a successful practice in Virginia. Female bears are excellent mothers and will readily take orphan cubs. Each female bear will be visited by DWR biologists in her winter den, and surrogate mothers will be given an appropriate number of orphan cubs depending on her condition, age, and the number of natural cubs already present.

An image of the radio collars that were used to tag the bears

Bear radio collar

This exciting project is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, but deployment of the radio-collars will be rotated periodically throughout the state so that no one location or female bear will acquire orphan cubs over an extended period of time.

We hope that each of these radio-collared bears will provide several years of service to the Department’s bear project. Questions about these bears or the project can be directed to Jaime Sajecki, the VDWR Bear Project Leader.

Please visit our bear page to view information ranging from general bear facts, the Black Bear Management Plan, how-to videos and information on trash can retrofitting and electric fencing, as well as tips for hunters and other useful links. KEEP BEARS WILD!

  • October 3, 2016