DNR researcher hopes to snare some bears
Snaring a bear is as difficult as it sounds.
But state wildlife researcher Suzie Prange, who works out of the Ohio DNR's Athens district office, is determined to snare some black bears this year.
Prange has a theory that many of the 93 black bears sighted around eastern Ohio last year were permanent residents of the Buckeye State. To prove that theory and put a hard number on the state's breeding black bear population, she needs to snare some and equip them with radio collars to track their whereabouts and activities.
It's all easier said than done.
Prange's first step in this first year of her project was to set up "baits" in areas of previous bear sightings. These bait stations are equipped with trail cameras, as well as sweet fruit, decaying deer carcass and other aromatic enticements that bears are known to savor.
Prange hopes bears will begin visiting her baits on a regular basis. Once a bear becomes a "frequent flyer" to a bait station, Prange will position a leg snare and wait for the catch.
Currently, Prange is keeping an eye on five bait stations in Vinton Furnace State Forest in Vinton County. Other stations are in Salt Fork State Wildlife Area – a popular black bear stomping ground – and on private land in Monroe County.
It doesn't matter if the snared bear is male or female. Females tend to stay within about 50 miles of their birthplace, while young males will wander hundreds of miles in search of a home territory.
"A male will stay if a female is present," Prange said.