By Darren Lum
Published May 29 2018
The smell of sardines wafting through the woods may not be for everyone but to a bear it’s an inviting perfume of food.
Since May 14 the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has used the tinned fish to entice the bears to barbed wire hair trap surveys located in several parts of northwestern northeastern and southern Ontario including all of Algonquin Provincial Park. As far as the Highlands area the trap surveys are in an area north of Hwy. 118 and east of Hwy 35 which includes the Leslie M. Frost Centre property and Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve.
They are looking to collect data about black bears to update their bear population data for the province particularly in areas where there are concerns about the sustainability of the bear population.
“Staff have set up survey stations with sardines to encourage local black bears to follow their noses right to the stations where they’ll have to rub up against some barbed wire as they go for the fish. As they rub against the wire it leaves behind a small hair sample that can be sent for DNA analysis. That data will help us determine the number of bears in areas surrounding the survey line and also which are returning bears and which are ‘unique’ bears” an MNRF press release states.
The survey stations will be left up until July 6.
As stated on the MNRF website these trap surveys “do not disturb or cause injury to the bear.”
MNRF staff will be wearing brightly coloured safety vests during weekly visits to the stations which will be identified with signage to collect the data.
DNA analysis of the hair samples will be conducted to determine the sex and identity of the bears and learn how many bears are new or returning visitors to the site. This information will be used to estimate the density of bears in an area surrounding the survey line.
The MNRF “ask anyone who comes upon the survey locations not to touch the station to protect the integrity of the survey data.”
For more information including survey locations refer to www.ontario.ca/page/wildlife-management#section-5.