New Jersey’s Black Bear Research project

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By Mike Madonia, Principal Biologist

The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Black Bear Research Project has been conducting research on black bears since 1980. Scientific data collected from New Jersey black bears for the past 37 years has resulted in an extensive database containing approximately 11,000 black bears that have been handled by Project personnel.

Trend data indicates that New Jersey black bears have a high reproductive and survival rate resulting in a healthy and viable bear population.

Research data acquired through the use of our intensive bear surveillance and monitoring program provides valuable information pertinent to bear behavior, habitat usage, home range, sex ratios, litter size, and mortality. Biological samples, such as blood and tissue, are routinely collected from captured bears during research tagging efforts and den work. Blood samples provide information on the general health of the bear population as well as revealing what diseases might also affect human or animal health.

DNA from tissue samples is used to determine genetic diversity among bears, population estimation and forensic investigation. Scientific data collected from these research studies provide a basis for sound management decisions and reflects the overall health of the bear population.

The following photos feature several impressive animals that Project personnel have encountered while performing annual research work. Also shown is a bear afflicted with a skin disease not yet encountered in the New Jersey black bear population.

For more information on black bears, visit NJFishandWildlife.com/bearfacts.htm.