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POTD 3-17-23


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🐻 Ever wonder what life is like in a black bear den?  

❄️ Each winter, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s black bear program manager and wildlife biologist heads into Penn’s Woods with a team to locate known female black bear dens. They find them by tracking their radio collars. 

🐻 Females, (aka sows), typically give birth in the den every other year in January. The cubs stay with the female throughout the summer and den with her the following winter. In the spring, the cubs, (now considered yearlings), will go off on their own and she will breed again and start the cycle over. 

🩺 Once the team arrives to the den, the mother is tranquilized and immobile, and is given a health exam. They check her collar for fit and functionality. The cubs are also given a health exam and ear tags. Data is recorded, including the number of cubs.  

📡 The following year, the biologist can relocate the female and see how many cubs survived their first year.   

🧐 Last year, the team discovered something very rare when visiting a yearling den. They found the female had one yearling and two newborn cubs. (Unfortunately, one cub was deceased). 
*This is very rare in the bear world, and those who study bears don’t quite know why this occasionally happens. We believe this situation was because the female and yearling were separated the previous summer while the yearling was a cub, and during that separation, the female bred with a male and then somehow reconnected with the cub before the denning season. It’s one or the other- yearlings or cubs, not both!  

📝 This phenomenon has only been documented one other time in Pennsylvania! Attached are some photos from that den. You will see one of the cubs, the yearling, and the female. The female and yearling are immobilized tranquilized in the photos.  

📸 Thank you to the Pennsylvania black bear biologist (pictured), Emily Carrollo, for the photos and story.





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