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GPS Tracking Black Bears

GPS Bear Tracker Provides Data For Curious Humans

University To Use Locational Technology On Bears

Although sports are a large part of the collegiate culture among SEC (South Eastern Conference) universities, it was the scientific research around wildlife tracking that created a buzz in Auburn among wildlife biologists. This is because of a research study that called upon GPS devices to assist in monitoring a small population of black bears in the wild. According to the research study conducted by the School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences based at Auburn University, it is estimated that roughly 26 black bears have inhabited an area known as Little River Canyon National Reserve. Black bears were important to the research team because of the small numbers of bears wild in the population, which had some people worried about human contact or bear attack. The team of wildlife biologists used GPS collars to determine the movement patterns of the bears as well as the way in which they interacted with the natural habitat. The experiment began with 10 of the black bears being equipped with GPS tracking collars so their movements could be monitored with precision.

The initial cost for the wildlife tracking experiment was approximately $25,000. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources picked up the majority of the tab for the research study.

Black Bear Sightings In Little River Canyon

According to a professor at Auburn, the research wildlife biologists team was a little shocked at the number of black bears calling the Little River region home stating the number of bears is at least 26. In fact, a local state Park Ranger who worked in Little River Canyon for roughly 20 years stated that although he heard about black bear sightings from visitors he had never seen one himself before. In fact, the Park Ranger explained that when he and fellow rangers heard about black bear sightings for the first time about 20 years ago that the rangers would sort of laugh off the sightings because they didn’t believe black bears inhabited the region, but now he stated visitors to the area report sightings very frequently. This has some rangers concerned about a potential bear attack if food sources get scarce.

Many researchers believe that the population of black bears in Little River could potentially be the most significant in the state of Alabama. With some in the conservation community believe that the overall wildlife bear population could be as high as 400! However, the team conducting the research project believes that the number is likely considerably smaller, around the number 50. However, the information related to black bear populations, age of the bears, reproduction, and more could all become more concrete when the research and data become analyzed and finalized.

How Do You Track A Bear?

Bears Wear GPS Devices

The animal trackers will provide real-time GPS data updates on each black bear involved in the experiment every 60 minutes. This GPS monitoring data will be accessible using an online platform where researchers can observe in detail the behavior of the bears. The GPS tracking collars will also offer a VHS transmitter that will help the researchers monitor the bears in their dens during the periods where hibernation occurs or when the animals are simply relaxing in their dens. Another cool feature of the GPS tracking collars is that they were engineered and programmed to automatically detach from the bears at the conclusion of the study.

Yosemite Black Bear

Black Bears In Smoky Mountains National Park

Wildlife biologist teams have been studying Yosemite black bear populations in the Smoky Mountains National Park for over a decade to get a better sense of a bear’s movements. The same type of GPS tracking data and GPS collar technology used in those research projects to determine if animals stay within park boundaries was also used in Little River.