Fish and Game Studies Black Bears

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To learn more about black bears, Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists are setting up hundreds of bait sites across the state this summer in order to track the elusive animal.

"It's something we have been doing in some parts of the state for the past several years," said Bruce Palmer, Fish and Game Regional Big Game Biologist. "This is just the first time it has been done uniformly, all across the state."

In the Magic Valley Region, biologists set 100 different baits in hunting management units 44, 45,48 and 49. The bait, consisting of fresh pork fat and anise oil, are hung about eight feet off the ground and wired to a soft-barked tree like an aspen. If a bear catches the scent of the bait it will climb the tree leaving scrape marks.

"Currently, the only information we have on bear populations or their status comes from the mandatory harvest checks from hunters," said Palmer. "This study will give us some base line information on bear occurrences and density for this region and the rest of the state.

"Because of the secretive nature of bears it is very difficult to determine their population densities," he continued. "Bears don't run out of the trees like deer or elk do when we are flying. We can then use this information along with mandatory harvest checks to better manage black bears in Idaho."