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Black Bear Summer 2004 Update
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Home > Appalachian Black Bears > About The Project > Black Bear Summer 2004 Update

Black Bear Summer 2004 Update

by Katie Settlage

Page 1 : DNA Study

2004 marked the second year of the pilot study to test a new mark-recapture technique that was implemented in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) last summer. DNA sampling is a non-invasive technique that involves the use of hair snares to collect DNA from bears. Analysis of the DNA in the hair roots allows identification of individuals and thus can be used to conduct mark-recapture surveys (see DNA Study Update for more info on the black bear DNA study).

We relocated and repaired the 65 barbed-wire hair snares within our study area that were left in place from last summer. All the hair snares were in fairly good condition, with the most common repair consisting of tightening the wire and reestablishing the proper wire height. For the most part we relied on our memories to guide us back to the hair snares, but we also made frequent use of the GPS and more importantly of the flagging. We found that, although much of the flagging was often missing, when flagging was present it was of great assistance in locating the snare. The hair snares were checked once a week for hair samples, for a total of 10 weeks. At the end of the summer, all the hair snares and flagging were taken down and removed from the Park.

Over the course of our 10 weekly sampling periods (31st May - 16th August 2004), we collected 1,778 hair samples. All sites had a bear visit at least once during the summer. The average number of samples collected per week was 178, and an average of 48 out of 65 sites yielded samples each week.

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