|John Van Niel with bear cub|
On March 5th, we visited two dens with females and cubs. Our first den went as smooth as smooth could be. We drove to the location near Campbell, NY and got our marching orders. We were a smallish group that included DEC personnel, FLCC students and veterinarians from the Seneca Park Zoo. The walk couldn't have been a half mile and was fairly level. We stopped a hundred yards from the den and let the advance crew move ahead. These are the DEC personnel that will actually be chemically immobilizing the adult. We kept our voices low and listened for the pop from the dart gun. Merely eight minutes after the drug was administered, the adult bear was completely under. It doesn't always happen that smoothly!
|Black bear sow in den|
Is she marking? Is this a result of boredom? Who knows... One of my students even suggested this was done during labor :)
I noted this bear sign at one other den: Branches bitten off as den material. These were broken off within feet of the den. I am determined to find an unused den by first noticing similarly broken branches.
One last shot of the family reunited. Notice the cubs under mom at the lower right.
Here, Sasha holds her hand out to the spot where the bear would lie. Again, notice how wide open this den is. At least this one had some substantial cover from the elements.
Above, one of my students (Ben Williams) lies on his back and looks up to estimate the percent cover. We also measure the size of the den, the direction of the opening, and more. But that should be the subject of another entry.
Here is a photo of the den from a distance. We are looking at the "back" of the den. The opening is not visible.