For the first time in over a decade, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) biologists will be radio-collaring adult female bears in Virginia. Data acquired through this project will provide new insights into the movements, denning habits, and home ranges of wild, female bears in unstudied areas of Virginia. Additionally, these female bears will provide a source of surrogate mothers for orphaned black bear cubs.
Biologists are currently capturing bears in portions of the Shenandoah Valley and in southcentral Virginia. Adult females will be fitted with GPS radio-collars. GPS radio-collars are linked to satellites which transmit location data to the biologists. Approximately 10 collars will be deployed this year and another 10 collars in 2017.
Using wild, female bears as surrogate mothers for orphan cubs has been a successful practice in Virginia. Female bears are excellent mothers and will readily take orphan cubs. Each female bear will be visited by DGIF biologists in her winter den, and surrogate mothers will be given an appropriate number of orphan cubs depending on her condition, age, and the number of natural cubs already present.
This project is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, but deployment of the radio-collars will be rotated periodically throughout the state so that no one location or female bear will acquire orphan cubs over an extended period of time.
While DGIF hopes that these radio-collared bears will provide several years of service to the department’s bear project, hunters may harvest radio-collared bears as long as all the bear hunting regulations are followed. Questions about these bears or the project can be directed to Jaime Sajecki, the VDGIF Bear Project Leader at: email@example.com.
Visit the bear page at www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear to view information ranging from general bear facts, the Black Bear Management Plan, how-to videos and information on trash can retrofitting and electric fencing, as well as tips for hunters and other useful links.
DGIF reminds the public to keep bears wild.
To report wildlife crime call 1 (800) 237-5712.