Updates Related to COVID-19 »

DGIF Black Bear Radio-Collaring Project

Since 2016, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) biologists have been radio-collaring adult female bears in Virginia. Data acquired through this project continues to provide insights into the movements, denning habits, and home ranges of wild, female bears in unstudied areas of Virginia. Additionally, these female bears are successfully being used as surrogate mothers for orphaned black bear cubs.

Photo by Meghan Marchetti, DGIF.

There are currently eight adult females fitted with GPS radio-collars primarily in southcentral counties of Appomattox, Buckingham and Pittsylvania. GPS radio-collars are linked to satellites that transmit location data to the biologists. Four of these females currently have approximately 10 month old cubs with them and three to four are expected to have cubs this winter.

Using wild female bears as surrogate mothers for orphan cubs has been a successful practice in Virginia. Female bears are excellent mothers and will readily raise orphan cubs. Each female bear will be visited by DGIF biologists in her winter den, and females who have given birth to cubs will act as surrogate mothers and be given an appropriate number of orphan cubs depending on the surrogate’s condition, age, and the number of natural cubs already present.

This exciting project is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Deployment of the radio collars will be rotated periodically throughout the state so that no one location or female bear will acquire orphan cubs over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, we have lost eight females through hunter harvests, a farmer kill and a suspected poaching event. We hope that each of the remaining radio-collared bears and others collared in subsequent years will provide several years of service to the Department’s bear project.

For more information, please visit our webpage at www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear to view information ranging from general bear facts, the Black Bear Management Plan, how-to videos and information on trash can retrofitting and electric fencing, as well as tips for hunters and other useful links.

KEEP BEARS WILD!

To report wildlife crime, call 1-800-237-5712.

  • November 28th, 2018

2016 Acorn Production Varies By Region

shutterstock_510076396Over 200,000 hunters will take to the woods this fall in search of deer, turkey, and bear as well as a host of smaller game species.  One thing all of these hunters need to know is the importance of acorns in the diets of the game they hunt.  Acorns are a nutritious food providing protein, fat, and energy in the diets of 90 species of game and non-game animals in Virginia.  As such, they are a staple food for Virginia’s wildlife, providing important resources to meet the physical challenges of winter weather and reproduction in the following spring. Read the rest of this article…

  • November 8th, 2016

Hunters: Be on the Lookout for DGIF’s Research Bears

Radio-collar bear research projectFor the first time in over a decade, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) biologists are radio-collaring adult female bears in Virginia. Data acquired through this project will provide new insights into the movements, denning habits, and home ranges of wild, female bears in unstudied areas of Virginia. Additionally, these female bears will provide a source of surrogate mothers for orphaned black bear cubs.

There are currently 10 adult females fitted with GPS radio-collars in portions of the Shenandoah Valley and in southcentral Virginia. GPS radio-collars are linked to satellites which transmit location data to the biologists. In addition to the 10 bears collared currently, another 10 will be deployed in 2017. Most all of these bears are expected to have cubs this winter. DGIF is asking hunters to not harvest these radio-collared bears that are providing valuable information about movement and biology.

Using wild, female bears as surrogate mothers for orphan cubs has been a successful practice in Virginia. Female bears are excellent mothers and will readily take orphan cubs. Each female bear will be visited by DGIF biologists in her winter den, and surrogate mothers will be given an appropriate number of orphan cubs depending on her condition, age, and the number of natural cubs already present.

This exciting project is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, but deployment of the radio-collars will be rotated periodically throughout the state so that no one location or female bear will acquire orphan cubs over an extended period of time.

Bear research project: radio-collarWe hope that each of these radio-collared bears will provide several years of service to the Department’s bear project. Questions about these bears or the project can be directed to Jaime Sajecki, the VDGIF Bear Project Leader.

Please visit our bear page to view information ranging from general bear facts, the Black Bear Management Plan, how-to videos and information on trash can retrofitting and electric fencing, as well as tips for hunters and other useful links. KEEP BEARS WILD!

bearaware-ad01
  • October 3rd, 2016

Orphaned Bear Cubs Successfully Returned to the Wild!

On Friday, January 23rd, VDGIF biologists were notified of three very small bear cubs that were removed from a wild den in Shenandoah County that day by a citizen. The person who found and removed the cubs thought they had been abandoned.

VDGIF strongly discourages people from picking up wildlife. If there is any question about cubs, fawns, or other wildlife, we ask that people call the nearest VDGIF office. Many times when people find and pick up a lone fawn or bear cub they are actually taking the animals away from their mother who is hiding nearby.

Due to the conditions and timing, returning them to their original den site was not an option. The cubs were taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia where they were given food, fluids, and checkups.

The three healthy male cubs all weighed approximately 1.5 pounds; none had their eyes or ears open yet and were believed to be only a few weeks old. In order to give them the best chance at a survival, VDGIF biologists investigated a den site in Southside Virginia coincidentally found by a quail hunter on Saturday, January 24th. The den proved to be active with a sow and cubs. The three orphans were taken to the den site from the WCV on Tuesday, January 27th. The sow partially emerged from the den and the cubs were left near the opening. Within a minute, the sow took each cub into the den and biologists promptly left the area so she would not be nervous and leave the den.

Wild fostering is a common and successful practice when the option exists. Sows with cubs will readily accept other young cubs early in the year while she is still in the den nursing cubs of her own. Wild bears raising orphan cubs (over human rearing) is the most preferred option in order to meet our very important bear program goal to “Keeping Bears Wild.”

Photos courtesy of Wildlife Center of Virginia. Den site photo showing sow taken by quail hunter.

  • January 28th, 2015