A Look Outside : Just the Bear Facts

A Look Outside : Just the Bear Facts

March 26, 2020 | Articles, Blog | No Comments

A Look Outside : Just the Bear Facts


Once the black bear roamed over the
whole of Virginia from the mountains to the coast. Long ago American Indians and settlers alike valued the black bear its hide and fur made warm clothes its meat
was a staple food and its fat was made into tallow candles. Today the bear’s
range is much smaller consisting of two separate populations – one is found in
Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains and the other lives around the Great Dismal
Swamp in the southeast. Biologists from the Virginia Department of Game and
Inland Fisheries and Virginia Tech are working together to find out more about
the lives of bears in Virginia. They call their study the cooperative Allegheny
bear study – or cabs for short. Let’s take a look outside and learn what
scientists can tell us about the biggest animal in Virginia – the black bear! I’m Monica I’m in eighth grade, Desmond
eighth grade, Erin, eight grade, Jacob fifth grade, Ben eight grade. April sixth grade. Students from
the Chester, Blacksburg, and Hopewell are visiting Virginia Tech Center for Ursid
research to learn more about the bear study. She probably recognizes me since I do
feed her every day, but that doesn’t mean she likes me. One of the questions that’s
most frequently asked is are bears dangerous – well heck yes they’re
dangerous. Bears are big animals, they’re powerful animals, and they can inflict
injury on humans. The fact is they rarely do. Bears are also secretive animals and
they’re shy animals and they tend to stay away from people. Dr. Michael Vaughn is the bear expert at Virginia Tech He oversees the bear project and helps
college students learn about bears. In order for the students to work with the
bears, the protective mother bears have to be put to sleep. What I am doing
is I’m loading up a dart this is how we deliver the drugs to the adult bears – we
use a drug called ketamine and xylazine to immobilize the bear. Put our barrel on,
it has the dart inside and we put some CO2 pressure behind the dart, and then
just press the trigger and the dart comes out – so we’re gonna dart one of the Bears now. Careful aim must be taken with the dart
in order to assure that the bear is sedated properly. (Dart is shot)”Good job!” A few minutes later and it’s safe for the students to enter the bear cage. The Cubs can now be
taken from the mother bear who is sound asleep. Watch out for the claws go ahead
and put them underneath your jacket. The best thing to do to calm them down as
they start to start crying you go ahead and rub them. Watch out they like to
climb a lot so you want to hold their head down and hold their head right at the shoulders like as if she was a bear you take the cub and you put your hand right there so she doesn’t climb up okay? Cause she’s going to try to scratch your neck. So be real careful. Go ahead and walk them and bring him into the lab. The drug only works for a short time so the students must work fast. Okay put it under undnerneath your sweatshirt; watch out for the claws, OK? keep it nice and warm and go ahead and in the (Bear crying) Back in the lab biologist Betsy Stinson
explains how the Cubs grow and why studying them is so important. This little cub was born in January–late January; it’s a little male and he weighs
about three pounds. When these little guys are first born they weigh about eight ounces.
They’re very small they’re about eight inches long. They’re blind but actually
their eyes aren’t open. They’re helpless and they’re always born in the den with
the female bear. And they’ll be studied as they grow, every ten days or so the Cubs
and the mother bears are taken out and the researchers here take a variety of
measurements to look at growth rates, and also to look at the effects of nutrition
on the mother bear and on the reproduction and on cub production. the bear study calls for a series of precise measurements this measurements called
actual length is taken from the tip of the nose to the tip of the bone in the tail. Now it’s the students turn
to measure the Cubs (music starts) I’m measuring the actual length of this cub. From the tip of the nose to the tip of
the tailbone and it is 19 centimeters long. The students have lots of questions
about the Cubs. “what’s the earliest age that they can like, climb a tree?” “They could climb a tree right now and they can climb a tree probably about 20 days old or so. When we first get them we first start handling at about 10 days old
usually, probably not strong enough to climb a tree at that point, the mother’s
way protective of them covers them with her body to protect them. About 20 days
on they’re gonna usually be strong enough to be able to climb a tree
partway if not the entire way up. Do the Cubs hibernate with the parent with the mom when they’re first born? the Cubs when they’re born — they’re born in January in February–they stay with her that first winter with their mother and the mother
keeps them nice and warm in the den Warm and dry–and they stay again with her asecond winter and then they’re released. and they go on and go off on their own.
“How do bears prepare for hibernation?” Bears prepare for hibernation by eating
almost constantly! Bears begin preparing for hibernation in
the fall. In the state of Virginia bears are particularly
dependent on acorns as a source of food. And acorns start dropping from the
trees and in late August and early September and it’s the Bears major
source of food and bears go into a stage of overeating the technical term is
‘hyperphagia’ and it means overeating. And they eat day and night. And they may
consume ten or twelve thousand calories a day in food. They may increase their body weight forty or fifty percent over what it was in summertime. All that weight
helps bears when their bodies slow down during denning — but bears are not true
hibernators. Their bodies never shut down they don’t eat and they don’t drink when
they’re hibernating but their body slows down their temperature drops a little
bit their metabolism slows down everything slows down but if you find a
bear in a den it can still get up and go after you. So you still got to be careful
they’re not completely sleeping but they’re a little groggy. Even trained
biologists have to be careful around a bear den. Cubs are also captured weighed and
measured in the wild many are found Denning in hollow trees. Graduate
students and biologists locate a bear den in a tree. One of the students climbs up and darts the mother bear. part of the tree is cut away and the Cubs are removed. The bears are weighed measured, and collared– just like in the lab. Soon the Cubs are back with their mother
and the tree is once again a snug den! the study of bears in the wild
together with research in the controlled environment of the lab is what makes
CABS unique.I learned that the momma bear does all the raising of the
children in the papa bear does nothing– He just makes and then goes off and does whatever. well I learned that bears hiberate in trees,
I didn’t know they did that .And um their bodies kind of like shut down and their kidneys
like recycle. And they don’t like pee or poop or anything like that when they’re hibernating. Well, the bears like, when they
hibernate — they’re groggy. Like if they feel that they’re in danger they can wake up and they can react. The reason they’re studying bears is so we can better understand the bears in what do, how they live and how they survive. Now it’s time for the Cubs to be returned to the mother bear she’ll be
waking up any minute. t’s really cute I think there that’s a really nice thing how they’re going to their mom and trying to make her wake up! Thiis family of
bears won’t live at the lab much longer After these Cubs get to be anywhere from
about 5 to 8 pounds which will be probably in May or so, they’ll be
released with the mother back to the area near where the mother bear came
from and they’ll be let go into the wild to carry on their life as wild bears! Female black bears are generally
excellent mothers. They’re very protective of the young Cubs and they
take good care of them. The little Cubs will stay with the mother – she’ll teach
them how to survive in the forest – she’ll teach them all the good things there are
to eat out there. Bears are a magnificent creature – there’s
a lot that we can learn from them some of the physiological differences from us
some of their behavioral differences and we can learn to live together as long as
we respect each other you

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