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News Hunters: submit bear teeth and hair

If you harvest a black bear this season, please submit a tooth and hair sample to MassWildlife. Teeth are used to find out a bear's age, and hairs are used to study bear genetics.
10/03/2019
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Media Contact for Hunters: submit bear teeth and hair

Marion Larson, MassWildlife

black bear

Bear tooth collection for age study

MassWildlife collects teeth from harvested bears to determine the age demographics of the harvest. You can contribute to the scientific management of the Massachusetts back bear population. If you'd like to submit a tooth, watch this video guide and follow the instructions below. You will receive a letter in June or July with the age of your bear.

  1. Remove either the left or right premolar (see photo below), the small tooth just behind the canine. Using a small sharp knife, or a sharp ¼-inch wood chisel, slide the blade down the side of the tooth and cut or separate the gum tissue where it sticks to the tooth. Using small needle-nose pliers or the pliers on your multi-tool, wiggle the tooth slightly until you can pull it out of the jawbone and the gum. The root is the most important part; go slow and be careful not to break this very small tooth.
  2. Put the tooth in a small envelope or bag and mark it with your name, mailing address, customer ID number, and confirmation number (or seal number) of your bear. Enclose everything in a mailing envelope and send it to:
    Black Bear Aging, MassWildlife, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd., Westborough, MA 01581.
black bear premolar

Bear hair collection for genetics study

MassWildlife and the Massachusetts Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit at UMass are asking for your help in collecting hair samples from black bears across Massachusetts.

The samples will be used to study black bear genetics in the state. Genetic information in the hair samples will be used to help assess relatedness among bears and determine the effects of barriers, e.g., roads, rivers, and other features, in influencing bear movements in the state.

HAIR COLLECTION PROCEDURE:

  • We need several small clumps of guard hair (long hairs not the soft underfur) from each bear. It is important to get the root to tip when pulling it out. Without the tip we cannot get genetic information.
    • We need 50–100 hairs or more per bear.
    • Hair can be pulled from multiple areas so as not to damage the potential for mounting/tanning. Each sample can be as few as 5 to 10 hairs.
    • It is much easier to pull hairs using pliers or a multi tool than by hand.
  • Place the hairs in an envelope and mail to;
    • MassWildlife Bear Project, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd., Westborough, MA 01581
  • Label the envelope or a note inside with your name, Customer ID# (on your license and bear permit) or Confirmation Number.
  • If possible provide as precise a location where the bear was harvested as possible.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact MassWildilfe Black Bear & Furbearer Biologist, Dave Wattles at (508) 389-6359 or dave.wattles@mass.gov

Media Contact for Hunters: submit bear teeth and hair

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 

MassWildlife is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.
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