Grizzly Tracking Signs
Music; Ambience: volunteers cheering bear scat, walking through leaves.
(Volunteer) “Is that scat or not? I found this over here behind this big tree.
Treinish: That is definitely bear scat.”
When you’re searching for Grizzly bears, finding their scat is a good sign. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Treinish: I see a lot of seed content in it. I don’t see any hairs in it quite yet. I’m going to grab some photos of it before I disturb it at all.
JM: Gregg Treinish is Founder and Executive Director of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. He’s leading a group of volunteers looking for evidence of Grizzly Bears in the Tobacco Root Mountains of Yellowstone Park. Other promising bear signs are scratches in the bark of a tree.
Volunteer: Look closely at the bark for hairs. The fact that it climbed up there ten feet or so certainly suggests black bear not grizzly.
Treinish: So bear hair looks an awful lot like human beard hair. It can vary just like ours can in color and it can vary in length and how curly it is, but when you have a bear hair you want to really look for these silver tips on the end. That silver tip is where a grizzly bear gets it’s name. These are “grizzled” tips on the ends of the hairs. So, each hair has a follicle end where you can see little bits of skin in addition and then their tip end. We want to hold the hair somewhere in the middle just to make sure we’re not touching those follicle ends. That’s where we’re going to get DNA from. There’s a little piece of skin that comes out with that follicle and that’s where we’ll be able to extract the DNA from that’ll tell us whether this is a grizzly or not.
Finding evidence of Grizzlies in this region could affect the way the land is managed, providing protective corridors which allow the bears to extend their range and increase their population. Currently they’re on the threatened species list. Our thanks to Emily Sogn for the recordings. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.