Hibernating bear has radio collar swapped out while she slept

LANDER, Wyo. — Maintaining physical distance has not been a problem for a handful of wildlife biologists in the Lander region. Field personnel are still out and working. They are surveying, researching, and patrolling while taking as many precautions as possible for distancing.

One of two black bear cubs sleeps through the whole ordeal. Photo: WGFD

In late March, Wyoming Game and Fish Department large carnivore section biologists Ryan Kindermann, Zach Gregory, and Dan Bjornlie took advantage of the denning period to remove a failed radio collar on a black bear in the Sierra Madres mountain range of southern Wyoming.

This bear, an adult female, was collared in 2017 as part of black bear population monitoring work. The re-collaring effort included a 10-mile snowmobile ride and a two-mile snowshoe to the den location.

Fortunately, the VHF signal on the collar was still functional, so the den could be located. Following a clearing of the den entrance, the bear was drugged, and the collar removed; all this while the bear remained curled up in her den with her two newborn cubs.

Data from this collar and collars on other black bears in the Sierra Madres helped inform Game and Fish efforts to estimate population abundance and density in the area and evaluate current management strategies for last fall’s black bear season setting.

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