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Stinky bait helps calculate Utah bear numbers

Stinky bait helps calculate Utah bear numbers

Posted - Jan. 8, 2009 at 12:57 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The whiff of licorice and fish oil may help answer one of Utah's most persistent wildlife questions: Just how many bears are there in the state?

State wildlife officials are using those scents to lure black bears to remote tracking sites. Bear hair left on barbed wire around the stinky bait is collected for DNA analysis.

The samples will be used to calculate Utah's black bear population, now roughly estimated at 1,500 to 3,000.

Kevin Bunnell, mammals program coordinator for the Division of Wildlife, says the technique already is being used to count bears in two parts of the state.

Bunnell told the state wildlife board on Thursday that three more sites across Utah should be up and running this year.

The first statewide, DNA-based count of black bears is expected by 2011.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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