In March, 2016, Bear Trust International joined program partner Dr. Heather Johnson with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to do den work in Durango, Colorado! After Dr. Johnson sedated the adult research female, we entered the den and found a healthy cub. It’s a boy!
Data were collected on the bear cub and mom, which will be used as part of the 5-year research study on black bears in and around Durango. Results from this research will be used to help guide bear management. In addition, Bear Trust is using data from this research study to create an innovative conservation education lesson plan as part of our Student Scientist Series.
For this upcoming lesson plan, students will use an interactive map to virtually collect field data and then use their data to estimate bear population survival. Here’s how it will work: Students will get a map of the study site with little dots all over it. When you click on a dot, a photo of the bear that was captured at that location will pop up, along with data about that bear. Was the bear female? Male? How much did the bear weigh? How old was the bear? Was it captured before or was this its first capture? Students will virtually “collect” all these data and then learn how to convert the data into “capture histories” for each bear. Then, students will learn how to input the capture histories into Program MARK software to estimate population survival!