The mystery of how many grizzly bears inhabit
Washington's rugged North Cascade Mountains may soon be solved with
some help from man’s best friend.
Wasser, a zoology professor at the University of Washington, is
using four dogs to sniff out bear scat; Wasser says they can smell
it from up to a half-mile away. The scat's DNA will be analyzed to
find out whether it came from a grizzly or a black bear, a male or
a female - and will provide even the animal's individual
Biologists have long known that
a remnant population of grizzly bears inhabits the
10,000-square-mile grizzly bear recovery area. But they have been
unsure of the size of that population, and whether it will need
reintroduced bears to fully recover. Wasser's research holds
promise for answering those questions.
excited," says Bill Gaines, the wildlife biologist for the
Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forests. "If (Wasser's) new methodology
works out, we will get irrefutable evidence if there is a viable
grizzly bear population out there."
summer's research, paid for by the National Park Service, may lead
to new ways of managing grizzly bear habitat; biologists expect to
use it in a future environmental impact statement.