BILLINGS, Mont. -— Researchers are starting a “hair of the bear” study of grizzlies along the Montana-Idaho border using bits of fur snagged on barbed wire traps to collect DNA on the animals.
The 2,600-square mile Cabinet-Yaak area of northwestern Montana and northern Idaho has an estimated 40 bears.
U.S. Geological Survey scientists said Wednesday that the summer hair study will provide new information on where those bears live and help researchers craft a more accurate population estimate. More than 800 hair-collection traps will be used.
A similar technique was used in 2008 to tally 765 bears in the Northern Continental Divide area, which includes Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. That population, now estimated at about 1,000 bears, is targeted for removal from federal threatened species protections by 2015.
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