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West Virginia Wildlife
Urban Bear Study
Patrick McMurtry Biologists Study Black Bears Close To Cities

March 6, 2013
Reporter: Patrick McMurtry
Videographer: Brad Rice


It's an annual tradition for us and the DNR, checking out black bears in March, but instead of finding these guys, we see this...a huge male hibernating the winter away.

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources biologists have shifted gears away from bear cubs to mature bears living near cities. Colin Carpenter is the lead biologist in this study and explains the program.

"The urban black bear project is a collective effort between West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, to look at movements, habitat use, home range size and vulnerability to hunting of bears who live near urban areas. In West Virginia, the project has been ongoing for two years. We had study areas in Charleston, Beckley and here outside of Morgantown. It's unusual because in the past we haven't done many male bear dens. This is only the second male den we've done since I've been working here. It's a large bear."

Man is it! This guys is huge and Colin and his crew are pretty familiar with him.

"This bear, we caught it in June of 2012 as part of the urban bear project. It has a global positioning collar or GPS that sends us messages over a phone network so we have been able to have almost day to day contact with it since we collared it in June." says Carpenter.

It sends information to the biologists just like they do in other states. Here, a PhD student from West Virginia University will help crunch the numbers to find out all the data needed to complete the project. This will probably be the last time Colin sees this bear.

"He laid down in December in this rock cavity and we are here now because the study is actually ending. We are removing the collars from the urban bears. We are going to pull him out, pull his collar off and make sure he is in good physical health and leave him" says Carpenter.

The biologists do just that, the bear's fine and in good shape and will sleep off this little interruption and be fine come Spring. The study's will no doubt give them a lot of good information they'll use to manage the state's growing bear population.

LEARN MORE at the W. Va. DNR


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