Michigan Officials Are Trying to Place Orphaned Black Bear Cubs With Wild Sows: Here’s How

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Jared Lloyd)

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has recently been trying to find mothers for orphaned black bear cubs. They are looking for the bear’s dens to hopefully place the orphans with new mothers, and they’re asking for help from Michigan residents who spend a lot of time outdoors.

If you live in Michigan and you notice a bear den while out in the field, the DNR asks that you report the location to the department. This will help them with their bear management program. Specifically, the department is looking for bear dens in the state’s Lower Peninsula.

After they locate a den, DNR biologists will determine if the denned bear is a good candidate for the surrogate sow program. It will fit the bear with a radio tracking device in order to monitor the new family. The sows will be sedated and fitted with collars and ear tags for monitoring. Additionally, a small, non-functional tooth will be taken from the bear to determine age and collect DNA. The sow will be returned to her den afterward.

“Information gathered from the bears assists in managing the black bear population,” wildlife biologist at the DNR Roscommon Customer Service Center, Mark Boersen said to WDIV. “The goal is to have eight or nine sows in the program. We currently are monitoring four females from aircraft and the ground.”

If you live in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and are outdoors a lot, keep an eye out for bear dens. If you come across one, record the location with GPS if possible. You can then contact biologist Mark Boersen at 989-275-5151 or [email protected]

Black Bears Are Losing Their Fur All Across Virginia: Here’s Why

All across the state of Virginia, black bears have been losing their fur. They’ve been stricken by mange, a disease that affects the skin in animals. It is caused by tiny mites that cause extreme itching, so animals end up scratching their hair off.

The disease is spreading across Virginia, leaving bears with patches in their usually thick fur and sores on their bodies. According to researchers and biologists in the state, the cause of the uptick in mange cases is unknown. Since 2018, mange has spread rapidly across the state with a frequency that is baffling researchers. From 2018 on, around 120 to 150 cases of mange in black bears have been reported every year.

“We don’t know why bears have become so susceptible to it,” said deer, bear, and turkey biologist from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Katie Martin. According to Martin, the bears are actually dying from mange. They become emaciated and die of starvation because they are so itchy that they stop eating. Though, according to wildlife officials, the Virginia bear population is still stable despite the disease.