New Mexico Dept. of Game & Fish expands bear population study to Gila National Forest

New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – During this summer, the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish biologists and conservation officers will be starting a two-year study on the black bear population estimate using hair snares in the Gila National Forest. The department reports bear hair snares are a modern study technique that allows researchers to collect DNA and allows biologists to identify the number of animals in an area.

Beginning in June, department biologists and conservation officers will set up the hair snares across the Gila National Forest. The snares will have strands of barbed wire stretched out across an area with bait set in the middle of them.

(courtesy New Mexico Dept. of Game & Fish)

As bears will duck under or step over the wires, hair will be collected. As bears are shedding their winter coats during the summer, it is the perfect tome to collect DNA samples as the snare will pull the loose hair without causing any harm to the bear.

The study is also taking place during breeding season which is when bears are moving more. The collected hair will be sent for DNA analysis at an internationally recognized lab that is used by many state agencies and universities for wildlife genetic studies.

The New Mexico Department of Game & Fish says the bear hair snares are not in high use areas of the forest however, if you find one of the sites you are asked not to touch the study areas. Similar studies have taken place in northern and southern Sangre de Cristo Moutains, Sandia Mountains, and the northern and southern Sacramento Mountains.

A bear hair study as recently completed in the Jemez Mountains as well.

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