A black bear and her cubs walking near the Ausable Lake Road this summer. (photo by Jim Franco/Spotlightnews)
This winter, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is asking the public to help locate bear dens throughout New York.
As part of the DEC’s ongoing monitoring of black bears, wildlife biologists periodically check on bear dens during the winter.
The bears may or may not be fitted with a radio collar to help biologists track the bears’ activities throughout the rest of the year and to relocate dens in subsequent years for monitoring cub production, condition and survival rate.
Bears may den in a rock crevice, tree cavity or under heavy brush or fallen trees. Female bears generally give birth in January or early February, and a high-pitched squeal from the cubs may be audible if near a den.
New York hikers and hunters typically cover countless miles of wooded terrain each year, and the DEC is urging anyone who finds a bear den to not approach or disturb the den, but simply to note the location and move away.
Anyone who does locate a bear den is asked to contact their local DEC wildlife office with specifics about the den’s location, including GPS coordinates if possible.
More information about black bears in New York is available at DEC’s black bear webpage.