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Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 12:36pm

Scientists Count Middle Ga. Black Bears

Updated: 4 years ago.
Casey Gray, a graduate assistant in the Warnell School of Forestry at the University of Georgia holds a pair of black bear cubs in a bears den near Tarversville March 12. Gray along with PhD student Mike Hooker are taking part in a Middle Georgia black bear study hoping to find out about their traveling habits and population. (JASON VORHEES/THE TELEGRAPH)

As cars whiz by on U.S. 29 behind him, Mike Hooker shoves clinking glass vials of anesthetic into his pockets and loads a syringe. Hooker, a wiry, slightly grizzled University of Georgia graduate student, fires pink-tipped darts into a target.

He is ready to sneak up on someone. Or rather, something: A mother bear with her cubs.

Hooker and other researchers are conducting a 3-year study of the Middle Georgia black bear population and its movements. It will help the state determine whether the bears can handle the pressures of road widening and bear hunting. But first, researchers need to know more about how many cubs are born each year and how many survive.

That’s the story the dens can tell.

S. Heather Duncan reports for The Telegraph of Macon, read more of this story here.