Maggie: Throughout the country, bears in the wild are coming into contact with humans more and more often. And that can be dangerous. But as Scott Evans shows us, biologists are working hard to make sure both animal and human can live together peacefully.
Scott: In the woods of northern Connecticut, Paul Rego and his team of biologists have found a bear den.
Paul Rego: This is a good approach for us as far as them not being able to see us.
Scott: Just under a fallen tree, there is a female black bear near the end of her winter hibernation. She is one of an estimated 500 black bears in the state. The men work their way in close and use a pole with a syringe attached to tranquilize her.
Last year, Rego’s team put a GPS collar on this bear. The mission is to determine patterns in the bears’ travel, what types of habitats they’re using, and how often they reproduce. This mother was nestled with three little cubs. The biologists say they are about three months old. And they will return next year to see if the little ones survived.
Bears have been known to hibernate for as long as seven months, depending on the food supply. But in the Northeast, black bears typically head into their dens between late November and early December, where they will rest until late March or mid-April. Which is exactly why researchers are fighting a ticking clock to find the last few still in their winter dens.
Rego: Part of this is going to be the den.
Scott: The data obtained from the collar of this mom shows she spent the past year in and around developed areas. The bear population is expanding into areas developed by humans. And humans are developing land already used by bears.
Rego: For some people, having a bear walk through your yard can be concerning. We have bears break into houses, kill livestock, attack pets.
I know you like me.
Scott: Biologists hope to educate people about how to best live in harmony with these wild neighbors who are here to stay.
Scott Evans, Channel One News.
Maggie: Now, black bears aren’t normally aggressive with people, but if they get nervous or feel threatened, they can become dangerous. So you definitely don’t want to try to get up close and personal with a bear in your own backyard.