Field Trip EarthAppalachian Black Bears
Den Work Summary - Spring 2003
Appalachian Black Bears Home
Choose a Trip
Field Trip Earth Home

Field Trip Earth

Join Field Trip Earth
About Field Trip Earth
Field Reports
What I Know About...
Educator Resources
Contact Field Trip Earth

Home > Appalachian Black Bears > About The Project > Den Work Summary - Spring 2003

Den Work Summary - Spring 2003

by Katie Settlage

We monitored 24 female bears for denning activity during the 2003 winter season. Bear dens were initially located by ground telemetry. For 11 bears, the signal was not heard. This can occur when the female is located in a remote area and her signal is muffled or blocked by terrain, but it can also occur when the battery on her collar expires, as is likely the case with most of our unlocated bears this season.

For three bears the signal was heard but the den site could not be located because of early den emergence, due in part to a few weeks of unusually warm weather in March. One bear dropped her radiocollar while it was still transmitting, so we were able to locate and retrieve it. We located and visited eight dens. Six of these dens were tree dens, and the remaining two dens were on the ground. We observed three females with cubs, with litter sizes ranging from one to three. Three females had yearlings in their tree dens (for each female, we were only able to observe one yearling in the den). Due to poor den access, the presence of cubs or yearlings could not be verified for two other female bears.

One of the females we located had received a foster cub from the Appalachian Bear Center in Townsend last winter. This female (#1664) was located on March 9, 2003 in the base of a hollow tree. She was observed with at least one yearling at that time, but she had subsequently emerged on March 14 when we returned to attempt immobilization. We were hoping to immobilize her and determine if the yearling we observed was the foster cub or one of her own cubs. Unfortunately, her collar had been chewed off in the den by her yearling. We hope to capture her again this summer so that we can put a new collar on her and continue to track her reproduction.

Another noteworthy tree den was occupied by the same female (#1281/1654) that had used it in 2002, and that same den was also used by a different female (#797) twice, once in 1990 and again in 1991. We hope to perform DNA analysis on hair samples from these two individuals to determine if perhaps they are mother and daughter.

mugshotAbout the author:

Katie Settlage is a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Would you like to comment on this article?
(print) View printer-friendly version