Black bears are an important part of Ontario’s biodiversity. Since 2017, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) staff have been completing barbed wire hair trap (BWHT) surveys to update bear density estimates within Wildlife Management Units (WMU) that have active, regulated resident and non-resident bear hunts. Starting this year, the MNRF will be proceeding with ongoing monitoring of the black bear populations. For full details and maps showing the locations please click on “Read More”
The bear hair trapping methodology, used broadly across North America, was introduced in Ontario in 2004 and is considered the most robust method for estimating black bear density. Ministry staff will set up survey stations with canned sardines to attract black bears. When the bear comes to the station, they brush past the barbed wire, which captures a small hair sample. The bear is not injured during this process.
Ministry staff return to each station to collect the hair samples once a week for five weeks. The hair samples are submitted for DNA analysis to determine the sex and to identity individual bears, and subsequently how many bears are visiting the site. This data is used to estimate the density of bears in an area surrounding the BWHT survey line. That information is then used to make density estimates for the WMU and more broadly at a landscape level.
Public safety and the safety of our staff is a priority for MNRF. We want to ensure that you, members of your community and hunters are aware that ministry staff are working in the area. We would like to share the general locations of our BWHT lines with you so that you are aware of our work.
The surveys for 2023 are planned from May 10 to July 4 for the following WMUs:
- In Southern Ontario, in Wildlife Management Units 48, 50, 51, 54, 55A and 55B.
- In Northeastern Ontario, in Wildlife Management Units 35 and38.
- In Northwestern Ontario, in Wildlife Management Units 15A and 15B
The beginning and end of survey lines will be marked with large signs, as well as a smaller sign at each sampling station. Ministry staff will be wearing brightly coloured safety clothing while working in the area.
How You Can Help
Our BWHT project analysis relies on the assumption that bear numbers within the study area don’t change during the survey. This is difficult to control in a wild population, and even more so when an active hunt is underway. To help determine which bears from BWHT project survey lines are removed due to hunting, we ask that if a member of your community harvests a bear, that they consider submitting two premolar teeth from each bear. In addition to using these teeth for aging purposes, we can now extract DNA and determine if these individuals were
- identified in our BWHT surveys. Please see the attached information sheet explaining how teeth can be submitted for analysis.
- To age a tooth, a thin section is taken from the root of each tooth. The section is then stained to make it easy to see the rings of the tooth. Just like rings in a tree, the rings visible on the root of the tooth can be counted to indicate the age of the bear.
Northwestern Ontario, in Wildlife Management Units 15A and 15B
Northeastern Ontario, in Wildlife Management Units 35 and38.
Southern Ontario, in Wildlife Management Units 48, 50, 51, 54, 55A and 55B
If you have any questions or concerns please contact Red Sky Métis Independent Nation at 807-623-4635 extension 220 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org