Research is currently underway in the Little River Canyon National Preserve, Talladega National Forest and the Mobile River Basin. Sampling for black bears in northeastern Alabama involves the deployment of hair snares and trail cameras. In the southern part of the state, EcoDogs are also a vital tool. The canines from Auburn’s EcoDogs program are capable of sniffing out and locating bear droppings. Once the hair and droppings are collected, they can be used to determine dietary habits, habitat use and population size.
According to the press release, the established population of black bears in northern Alabama is about 50, but black bears are moving into the northeastern part of the state from Georgia and Tennessee.
“The population is too sparse to effectively survey them,” said Larry Herrighty, the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s assistant director of operations. Plus, he said, the cost to do so would be prohibitive because of the area involved.
This year is the third year that there has been a black bear hunting season in New Jersey, although that is only in the northwest corner of the state, the article says.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) biologist Heather Johnson recently gave an interim report on her five-year black bear study to the state Parks and Wildlife Commission, the Durango Herald reports.
According to the CPW website, the study is intended to gather more information about the increase in conflicts between black bears and humans in the state. Does the increase reflect black bear population trends, or a change in behavior? To that end, the website says, the study:
1) tests management strategies for reducing bear-human conflicts, including a large-scale treatment/control urban-food-removal experiment; 2) determines the consequences of bear use of urban environments on regional bear population dynamics; 3) develops population and habitat models to support the sustainable monitoring and management of bears in Colorado; and 4) examines human attitudes and perceptions related bear-human conflicts and management practices.
One and a half years in, Johnson has found that female black bear behavior of the 51 collared bears she tracks is highly variable. One collared female never left a three block area in Durango, another wandered for 200 miles.
Up next is an experiment comparing conflicts in an area with bear-proof trash cans to one without the cans. That experiment will begin in the spring.
According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department:
A review of the 2007-2011 period of the California condor reintroduction program in northern Arizona and southern Utah was recently completed and identifies a number of successes, including an increase in the free-ranging population, consistent use of seasonal ranges by condors and an increased number of breeding pairs. However, exposure to lead contamination from animal carcasses and gut piles left in the field continues to limit the success of the program. The team made several recommendations to address the lead issue.
On Saturday (Sept. 29), the reintroduction continues with 17th public release of condors in Arizona since the recovery program began in 1996. At this event three endangered California condors will be released to the wild.
The pronghorn piece mentions the impact on hunting, but the waterfowl article does not. Farmers tilling under crops early this year or not harvesting them at all, will create confusion for waterfowl hunters who may find that field they always hunted in off limits this year because of baiting regulations. This press release from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources explains some of the issues.
The first update to Oregon’s bear management plan in 14 years was announced late last month. Most of the bears killed in Oregon last year were hunted, an article in the Oregon Mail-Tribune reports:
1,772 bears were killed statewide, with 1,346 of them killed by sport hunters and another 352 bears killed as a result of damage incidents, the draft states. Along with the 22 bears killed over safety complaints, another 52 died as a result of miscellaneous categories such as roadkill, accidental death or poaching.
Florida has revised its draft black bear management plan after receiving 2,500 public comments on the original draft of the plan. The plan will remove the species for the state’s list of threatened species. It will also create seven black bear management units. This plan is also expected to be accepted in June.
In Kansas, they are searching for lesser prairie chicken breeding areas, or leks, from the air with helicopters. Field crews will train on March 29-31 and conduct official survey work across all of western Kansas until the middle of May. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is also asking people to report leks. The survey is part of a five-state effort, and the survey technique will be evaluated.
In Maine, biologists at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have visited up to 100 dens each winter for 37 years, making the survey in the nation’s oldest radio-collar monitoring program for bears. This year the Maine Sunday Telegram wrote a story about it, with lots of pics. Read it here.
According to the Los Angeles Times, when flooding hit the Atchafalaya River Basin, wildlife headed for high ground — the levees. It says that even a turtle has been spotted escaping the flood waters on drier ground. The problem, says the article, is that when people head down the levee to get a look at the flooding, they scare the animals back into the water.
Finally, not a single state wildlife biologist is mentioned in this article in The New York Times, about wildlife rehabilitators in Louisiana rescuing baby ospreys from alligators in the flood. The article suggests that denying the gators their raptor snacks is all good. Read the article here.
This spring, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources began a two-year study of urban bears in three cities. The West Virginia Gazette-Mail has the details. The West Virginia effort began last year and is part of a region-wide effort. Urban bears are also being studied in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.