Hunters Reminded to Submit Bear Teeth

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As spring bear hunters prepare for the April 1 and April 15 season openers throughout the state, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials today reminded successful hunters that their help is needed for an important study.

State wildlife managers are asking every successful bear hunter to submit a single premolar tooth from each harvested bear, as well as the reproductive tracts of female bears. All bear hunters received a specially marked, postage paid tooth envelope, which includes instructions for removing and submitting teeth.

ODFW is working on an important study designed to more accurately estimate Oregon 's bear population. Submission of premolar teeth and female reproductive organs are critical to management efforts.

Biologists are using a unique method to mark bears and help direct black bear management in the state. Last summer, researchers lured bears into bait stations by hanging small sacks containing tetracycline capsules wrapped in bacon. The chemical stains the bears' teeth, and the stain is visible under ultraviolet light. The system allows researchers to conduct a mark-recapture study to estimate the number of black bears in Oregon .

"This program is crucial to ODFW's bear management efforts, but its success depends on help from bear hunters," said Larry Cooper, ODFW Wildlife Division assistant administrator. "Strong hunter participation is essential to helping the department better manage Oregon 's bears, which means quality hunts for the future."

The bear meat is safe to eat and will not stain the teeth of people who eat the meat.

The higher the percentage of successful bear hunters who cooperate by providing the requested teeth and reproductive organs, the better the population estimate will be. Last year, only 30 percent of successful hunters participated.

Hunters are encouraged to contact local ODFW offices for assistance or more information. Participating hunters will be notified of the age of their bear once laboratory analysis is completed in about a year.