Colin Carpenter, a biologist with the WVDNR, says West Virginia's state animal is thriving. "The bears are doing extremely well in West Virginia. They've expanded in numbers, so density is up and they continue to expand west. The goal of the long-term study was to find the most cost effective way to monitor the population and we've tried different methods."
We've been right there with them as they put implants into young bears, radio collars on others and even GPS tracking devices. The newest technology used in the bear study lets us see how far some of these animals roam. It also gives us a chance to come back every year and check on the newest members of the bear population.
These little guys are healthy, no surprise given the abundance of food in the woods this year. That certainly wasn't the case last year when there was a statewide mast failure, but even then, the bears did OK.
"Over the course of the study, we haven't seen the cub failures like other state's have, even though survival might suffer going through the first year of life, we don't see the cub failure other state's have. These bears are able to shift to other food sources in years of mast scarcity." says Carpenter.
And it appears the bears are doing well in all parts of the state where DNR biologists are keeping tabs on the population.
"The northern and southern districts didn't have a statistical difference in the two areas. It seemed like in the 1970's and '80's, the sows produced fewer cubs, but looking long-term at the whole course of the study, it's not a difference between the two populations." says Carpenter.
And that means now that the ten year old study is over, the main goal was achieved. The bear population has been properly managed and the animals are thriving. That's good news for all of us.
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