IN ARKANSAS, THE BEARS ARE EVERYWHERE : GROWING NUMBERS CHEER EXPERTS.Byline: Larry Rea The Commercial Appeal
David Goad squirmed to get his lanky frame inside the 3-foot hole, slipping deeper and deeper into the darkness until only his legs could be seen.
For Goad, a wildlife biologist '''
The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page.
A wildlife biologist is someone who studies wild animals and their habitats. with the state Game and Fish Commission, the moment of truth had arrived. He wasn't digging for gold "Digging for Gold" is a single by the Australian folk punk band Mutiny, released in 2002 by Haul Away Records. Track listing
Goad was halfway inside the winter home of one of 16 radio-collared female black bears the Game and Fish Commission monitors annually in late winter. The commission is checking to determine the health and growth patterns of the state's estimated 3,000 black bears.
On this day, Goad and about 15 others, including Janet Huckabee, wife of Gov. Mike Huckabee This article or section contains information about one or more candidates in an upcoming or ongoing election.
Content may change as the election approaches. , were surveying a den occupied by a female black bear known as Heather. A January aerial survey Aerial survey is a geomatics method of collecting information by utilising aerial photography or from remote sensing imagery using other bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as infrared, gamma, or ultraviolet. had pinpointed the radio-collared bear. Later, commission biologists used a hand-held antenna to locate the den on the side of a steep gully, about a mile off U.S. 270.
Before entering, Goad used a tranquilizer dart A tranquilizer dart is a dart-like projectile containing a sedative which is injected into the target as if through a needle or syringe when the dart strikes the target. Tranquilizer darts are fired from a capture gun or a crossbow at wild animals in order to sedate them for the to sedate se·date
To administer a sedative to; calm or relieve by means of a sedative drug. the 160-pound, 7-year-old bear that had been trapped and collared two years ago in a nearby area. She had been been pulled from the den and was snoozing nearby as Goad slithered inside in search of cubs.
``We knew there was at least one cub in the den, because when we were in the area earlier we could hear a cub crying,'' said Randall Bullington, a commission biologist based in the Ouachita Mountains. He whispered to keep from disturbing Goad's concentration. ``We just weren't sure how many until we got into the den.''
That was Goad's job.
Within minutes after crawling inside, Goad pulled out a feisty, wide-eyed cuddly cub. Then another. And another. The heaviest of the cubs, estimated to be about a month old, weighed 6-1/2 pounds. Another weighed 4-1/4 pounds. There were two females and one male.
Once the cubs had been removed from the den, each person in the group was allowed to hold one for a few minutes before they were weighed, thoroughly examined and returned to the den, along with their mother.
``This is what it's all about,'' Goad said with a smile as he gently stroked a cub's soft fur. ``When we find a den with not only a healthy mother, but also healthy cubs . . . well, we celebrate. Today, we celebrate.''
Time to rejoice
Judging by the growing numbers of black bears in Arkansas, Goad and other biologists have been doing a lot of celebrating. The average size of litters found this year was just under three, Goad said, but two dens had four cubs. Heather had a yearling yearling
an animal in its second year of age, e.g. yearling cattle, yearling filly, yearling colt.
rinderpest in wildebeeste in the Serengheti. cub with her when her den was checked in '96. The cubs stay with their mother until about 18 months old. Male yearlings will then be chased off, Goad said. Only one male bear is usually found in a particular area.
Bullington, a 20-year veteran with the commission, has been involved with the state's bear program since 1981. He said a female bear's range is about 15 miles. Males, he said, have a range of about 40 miles.
Not that black bears can't expand their range.
``We are close to reaching the limit of our good bear range,'' said wildlife biologist Mike Pledger PLEDGER. The same as pawner. (q.v.) , who has been involved in Arkansas's bear program for 15 years and is in his fourth year as the commission's bear project leader. ``Most of our Ouachita and Ozark regions are full of bears. They are trying to spread out in all directions.''
In fact, Goad said, Arkansas-born black bears are being found in Oklahoma and Missouri. Arkansas's successful black-bear restoration effort, which began in the late 1950s, has resulted in other states seeking ways to enhance their
v. dwin·dled, dwin·dling, dwin·dles
To become gradually less until little remains.
To cause to dwindle. See Synonyms at decrease. bear numbers. Goad said the Game and Fish Commission is assisting Louisiana's recovery and management plans for black bears.
There were fewer than 50 black bears in Arkansas in the late 1950s. Through stocking efforts - primarily in the Ouachita and Ozark mountains Ozark Mountains, Mo.: see Ozarks, the.
or Ozark Plateau
Heavily forested highlands, south-central U.S. Extending southwest from St. , using animals from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada - the numbers have grown dramatically over the past decade. Hunters killed a record 207 bears in 1996, up from 133 in '95.
Bear hunting reopened in Arkansas in 1980 after a 50-year hiatus. The multi-segment season runs from October, for archery, through late November, when guns can be used. About 60 percent of bears killed are taken by accident, Pledger said.
``We don't have a lot of died-in-the-wool bear hunters in the state,'' Pledger said.
That's a shame, Goad said. ``We have record-book (size) bears in Arkansas,'' he said. ``It's not uncommon to kill a huge male (bear) in the Ouachitas. I weighed a bear this fall that a hunter killed that weighed 550 pounds. We've got one (mounted) in our Little Rock office that weighed 575 pounds. Our (black) bears are bigger than in other parts of the country because of the excellent habitat and food supply we have.''
Goad said the Game and Fish Commission relocates about 35 nuisance bears each year, mostly juvenile males that have been driven from their home territories by dominant males. This sometimes leads to problems, not only for the bear, but also for people they encounter.
``Our job isn't just to manage bears as a resource, but we've also got to be educators,'' Goad said.
Photo: (1) Arkansas first lady Janet Huckabee holds three bear cubs taken from a den in the Ouachita Mountains near Mount Ida Two sacred mountains are called Mount Ida in Greek mythology, equally named "Mount of the Goddess." Both are associated with the Mother Goddess in the deepest layers of pre-Greek myth: Mount Ida, Crete, and Mount Ida, Turkey, known as Phrygian Ida in Classical times. , Ark. She took part in a survey of a den occupied by a black bear known as Heather.
(2-3) Above, David Goad of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, left, and Donnie Harris of the U.S. Forest Service check a female black bear. Left, Goad lowers himself into a bear's den.
Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world.