Science on Tap: Researching bears in Wisconsin
This winter will mark the second year of the Wisconsin DNR’s Black Bear Litter and Diet Survey.
As the name would suggest, the survey has two goals.
One is to get a better understanding of how much human food bears are consuming.
The other is to get an estimate of black bear reproductive rates.
Jen Price Tack is the DNR’s Large Carnivore and Elk Research Scientist and one of the researchers for this survey.
“We’re collaring female bears only. And then we’re following the females and keeping track of their litters, how many cubs they have and then revisiting them to see how many of those cubs survived. Because interestingly, the bear, the young will spend two winters with their mother, the winter in which they’re born and the following winter as well when they’re yearlings,” said Price Tack.
To do this research, the DNR asks people to report black bear den donations.
Then Price Tack and a team of biologists will go into the dens, collar the sow, and weigh any cubs.
“We really try to avoid it as much as possible. You know let bears be wild and do bear things, but every now and then we have a project like this where we do need to get hands on. It is a lot of fun getting into dens is quite the experience. We call ourselves den divers for the folks that are actually going inside the den,” she said.
Last year, the DNR successfully collard 13 bears. The research is expected to last 7 to 8 years, with the hope of collaring 100 bears over that time.
Price Tack will be talking about this research as well as bear abatement when it comes to farmland at this week’s Science on Tap Minocqua.
“I hope they get excited and see some of the great work that we’re doing within the agency and how passionate we are bears and making sure we provide the best information possible for policy,” said Price Tack.
Science on Tap is Thursday, December 8th at 6:30 at Oakfire Pizzeria and Bar in Minocqua.