As the bear baiting season has ended, I thought it would be a good time to look at our most recent bear research. Maine’s black bear research team is the best in the country. And a column by lead bear biologist Randy Cross, published in the September/October edition of the SAM News, provides a lot of interesting information on their 2016 research. Here is Randy’s column.
2016 Bear Trapping Summary
The 2016 Trapping crew included myself with contractors Lisa Bates, Jake Feener, Ethan Lamb, and Brad Jones, as well as volunteers Evan Whidden and Mitch Paisker. We trapped in the Bradford Study Area out of the University-owned camp in Lagrange (second year in a row).
Spring came early and the weather was dry. We began pre-baiting May 1, began trapping on May 17, and tended snares from May 18 until June 23 for a total of 37 days.
We confined most of our snares to a small area (around 50 square miles) in the north-central portion of the study area during the first three weeks, then expanded to the south and west. We plan to use GPS and satellite collars to recalculate the bear density estimate for this area in the near future.
We set snares at 66 sites (24 were new trap sites), 33 in Lagrange (55 captures), 11 in Edinburg (28 captures), 11 in Alton (18 captures), 7 in Bradford (10 captures), 2 in Argyle (2 captures), 1 in Orneville (4 captures), and 1 in Howland (1 capture). Raccoons were markedly more troublesome than last year. Region F gave us a culvert trap to use, in which we captured 2 bears (1 male, 1 female).
Snares were tripped a total of 353 times, resulting in the captures of 118 bears (2,841 trap-nights – 24.1 trap nights per capture). We handled 78 different bears (36 male, 42 female) 118 times. Forty four bears were new to the study (19 males, 25 females) and 34 were previously tagged (17 males, 17 females). Four cubs (3 males, 1 female) were captured; the female cub was collared in hopes she would lead us to her mother in the den next winter. Twenty-two yearlings (11 males, 11 females) were captured a total of 47 times. Yearlings ranged in weight from 28 to 89 pounds.
Collars were placed on 36 females, including 9 yearlings, 1 cub, 4 of 7 that weren’t captured in last winter’s dens, and 8 that were previously known to the study. Three females were captured with missing ear tags, requiring a tooth age to confirm their identity. Only 4 of 14 active collars that did not need replacement were captured. This brings the total of collared females to 52 in this study area (including 9 satellite collars – 5 Vectronic and 4 Lotek).
This was a very unusual trap season, with females and yearlings especially vulnerable to capture. We captured roughly twice as many yearlings and for the first time ever, more females than males among adults. We had a record number of tripped snares, individual females captured, collars deployed, and yearlings captures. This is remarkable as this area is typically the most difficult study area in which to capture bears.
We captured a combined with of 6,696 pounds of bear, ranging from a 10-pound cub to a male that weighed 392 pounds. Three males weighed over 300 pounds and 64 of the 118 captures (54%) were of bears weighing under 100 pounds.
We hosted 71 guests on 25 days.
Recommend this article