Saved by the hair of a bear

  Saved by the


hair of a bear


This summer when Yellowstone grizzly bears enjoy a nice back-scratch, they could be saving their own hides. Researchers from the Yellowstone Grizzly Foundation will set up triangular corrals of barbed wire at various locations in hopes that the bears will rub against the wire and leave a little hair behind. "When a bear comes to one of our traps, it will be signing a guest book," says Don Whittemore, director of the nonprofit Yellowstone Grizzly Foundation. "We can identify a bear's entire family." Past studies have shown that Yellowstone's bears come from just two maternal lineages, and 91 percent spring from just one. Last year 18 grizzlies died - 16 killed by humans - the highest number since the species was given federal protection in 1975, giving scientists further concern about the population's genetic diversity. Federal scientists say the new tests will help them gauge the importance of bringing in bears from Canada and Montana to infuse the Yellowstone population with new genetic material. For more information, call the Yellowstone Grizzly Foundation at 303/939-8126 or check the group's web site at http://www.desktop.org/ygf.