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Photos: Utah biologists check on hibernating bears

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Posted at 9:57 AM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 13:10:57-04

Utah biologists took an expedition over the weekend into remote areas of the mountains to check on the condition of hibernating bears.

They wanted to see if the bears had babies, check on their health, and replace GPS tracking collars.

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Utah biologists check on hibernating bears

Faith Jolley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources documented her trip to visit one bear on Twitter.

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Utah biologists trek to remote areas to check on hibernating bears

"It’s pretty intense to get to some of these remote locations and often includes snowmobiling and a snowshoe hike," said Jolley.

"We located the bear den using equipment to ping her GPS collar and pinpoint her location. Then biologists prepared a tranquilizer shot to be sedate her during the health exams."

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Faith Jolley with Utah DWR sits with a sedated bear as they check on the animals health condition and prepare to replace a GPS tracking collar.

"Black bears are the only type of bear in Utah, and it was so incredible to get to be so close (safely) to one!"

They located the bear den using equipment to ping her GPS collar and pinpoint her location. Then biologists prepared used a tranquilizer shot to sedate her during the health exams.

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Utah biologists check on the health of a hibernating bear

Once she was sedated, they checked for babies (unfortunately, she had none) and then did health checks measurements and replaced her GPS collar.

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Utah biologists prepare a new GPS collar for a hibernating black bear

Jolley said she could be face-to-face with the sedated female bear in her den after it was tranquilized.

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Utah biologists check on hibernating bears

"This was my face to face with a bear in her den. Even though she was sedated, I was [very] nervous ha!"

According to the North American Bear Center, black and grizzly bears hibernate for up to 7 ½ months without eating, drinking, urinating, or defecating and are considered highly efficient hibernators.

To prepare, the animals spend the spring and summer eating everything they can find, up to 20,000 calories a day, in plants and grasses, berries, acorns, insects, honey, and even birdseed and garbage.

Most female adult bears produce a litter of two or three cubs. In North America, two is most common. The record is six for one bear in Pennsylvania, according to Bear.org.

Black bears can live up to 30 years in the wild.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, biologists equip black bears with collars to collect survival, reproduction, habitat, behavior, and movement data.

Jack Helean at KSTU first reported this story.