Citizen Science: Brown Bear Genetics

A trail camera shot of a bear walking the trails away from the camera.
Trail cameras can provide information supplemental to the genetic information from the hair samples. We can see individuals, the times they are active, and the locations where we capture their activity.

How many different bears use the park? How are they related? How does bear density change annually and seasonally within the park? Are bears mostly using the park during the fall salmon run or are there other reasons they are here? We will explore these questions with our bear monitoring project. To identify individual bears and learn how they are related, we will collect their hair and analyze the genetic material. We have strategically placed bear hair catchment devices (essentially large hair brushes) throughout the park to collect samples. We have also deployed trail cameras to collect photos to provide supplemental information. These techniques together will help us learn about the bears within the park and provide baseline information for future management decisions.

As part of the Summer Field Science School, students will get the opportunity to develop and build their own bear hair catchment device and think about strategic placement within the park. We will collect bear hair from the catchment devices and send it off to the lab for analysis. We will also check trail camera footage and see how many individual bears we can identify.

Last updated: May 4, 2018

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