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Categorized | Outdoors

Notes from the field: A lucky day

Wildlife biologists collar three bears in Newaygo

A female black bear crossing in front of wildlife biologist Pete Kailing’s truck.

A female black bear crossing in front of wildlife biologist Pete Kailing’s truck.

DNR wildlife biologist Pete Kailing recently had one of those days at work that he’ll never forget. “I couldn’t believe the luck we had that day,” Kailing said. “Sometimes it just feels like everything is working against you, but days like this are magic.”

Kailing is the wildlife biologist out of Big Rapids, who covers Oceana, Newaygo and Mecosta counties.

The Department of Natural Resources and Michigan State University are currently conducting a research project studying southern Michigan bear movements. Getting radio collars on bears is crucial to this study. This sounds much easier than it actually is. However, everything was in the right place recently, at the right time in northern Newaygo County.

Dwayne Etter, lead DNR research biologist out of Rose Lake, and his crew had just finished up trapping and radio-collaring a small bear nearby. Kailing had been on hand to assist in the effort, and everyone was wrapping up the successful collaring effort and headed in their own directions, when Kailing came around a curve and saw a female bear and her cub feeding in the open area.

“The two bears ran for the woods, and conveniently the cub ran up a tree,” Kailing said. “This was the perfect scenario. I quickly called Etter to tell him where I was and to get here fast.”

Trapping bears can be time-consuming—finding a good trap location, baiting the trap frequently, checking traps daily if not twice a day, and still you may not get the bear. Having a treed cub, with the sow nearby and DNR staff in the immediate area, is stroke of luck.

Kailing waited in his truck for Etter to arrive. Meanwhile, the female bear circled Kailing in his truck, and finally went up the tree with the cub.

When Etter arrived, the two were able to tranquilize the two bears, attach radio collars and gather other important information needed for the bear research project.

“In one day we had three bears collared—it was a great day,” said Kailing.

To learn more about Michigan’s bear populations, visit www.michigan.gov/bear.

 

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