Assistance Needed From Successful Bear Hunters

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State Conservation officials today announced they are seeking participation from successful Lower Peninsula bear hunters the help the DNR evaluate the size of Michigan’s bear population.

Wildlife biologists ask successful bear hunters to submit small amount of hair and tissue samples from harvested bears. Newly collected hair and tissue will be compared to more than 1,000 hair samples gathered from baited hair snares across the northern Lower Peninsula earlier this summer. Researchers use the bear’s own genetic “fingerprint” to identify individual bears. It is the same DNA-based techniques used with humans to identify crime suspects.

The DNR uses population models to estimate bear numbers and is evaluating a new method for estimating the size of the northern Lower Peninsula black bear population.

“Biologists would like to collect a small piece of muscle tissue and a small hair sample from all harvested bears,” said DNR biologist Dwayne Etter. “The piece of tissue can be any bit of muscle that is still fairly fresh and clean, and needs to be about as big as the tip of your little finger. The hair sample needs to be a couple of strands of hair pulled from the hide with the follicles attached.”

Bear check stations will have all of the instructions and equipment needed to collect the muscle tissue and hair follicle samples. Tissue and hair collection will not interfere with any potential taxidermy work or meat processing.

This project is a cooperative effort between the DNR Wildlife Division, the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University, the U.S. Forest Service, the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The Safari Club International – Michigan Involvement Committee and the Michigan Bear Hunters Association also made financial contributions to this project.