Just how many black bears are out there?

December 27, 2013
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Researchers at Clemson University and the state Department of Natural Resources have completed field work on a project that will yield important new information on the population of black bears in the South Carolina mountains. The objective is to estimate the black bear population in the Mountain Hunt Unit located in northern Oconee, Pickens and Greenville counties using DNA analysis and to use the information to improve bear management in the Upstate. The data were collected June through August of this year. Over the past ten years, the reports of bear sightings have greatly increased with many of the sightings outside the historic range. Last June, about 115 sampling sites were established in the three counties. Each sampling site consisted of two strands of barbed wire stretched around four trees. An attractant—raspberry essence and Krispy Kreme donuts—was placed within the enclosure to ensure the bears cross the barbed wire to reach it, snagging some hair on the barbs. About 350 hair samples are now being analyzed at a genetics lab in Canada.

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