When most people think of the University of Auburn they think War Eagle. They think Tiger football and epic wins over their in-state rival Alabama University like the one that occurred in 2013 when a missed field goal by the Crimson Tide led to a go-ahead touchdown for the Auburn Tigers in one of the craziest endings a college football game has ever produced. Although sports are a large part of collegiate culture in the south it is scientific research that is creating a buzz in Auburn. This is because of a new research study that is calling upon GPS tracking to assist in monitoring a small population of black bears.
According to a research study conducted by a professor for the School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences based at Auburn University, it is estimated that roughly 26 black bears have inhabited an area known as Little River Canyon National Reserve. The black bears are of importance to the research team because of the small numbers in population. The team is hoping that with the use of GPS satellite tracking devices they will be able to determine the movement patterns of the black bears as well as the way in which they interact with the natural habitat. The Auburn University experiment will begin with 10 of the black bears being equipped with GPS tracking collars so movements can be monitored with precision. The initial cost for this is approximately $25,000. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will be picking up the majority of the tab for the research study.
Black Bear Sighting
According to a professor at Auburn, the team has been a little shocked at the number of black bears calling the Little River region home stating the number of bears is at least 26. In fact, a local state Park Ranger who has worked in Little River Canyon for roughly 20 years stated that although he heard about black bear sightings from visitors he had never seen one himself before. In fact, the Park Ranger explained that when he and fellow rangers heard about bear sightings for the first time about 20 years ago that the rangers would sort of laugh off the sightings because they didn't believe bears inhabited the region, but now he stated visitors to the area report sightings very frequently. Now many researchers believe that the population of black bears in Little River could potentially be the most significant in the state of Alabama. With some on the conservation community believing that the overall bear population could be as high as 400, the team conducting the research project believe that number is likely considerably smaller, around the number 50. However, the information related to black bear populations, age of the bears, reproduction and more could all become more concrete when the research and data becomes analyzed and finalized.
GPS Tracker Devices
The animal GPS trackers will provide a real-time locational update on each black bear every 60 minutes. This GPS monitoring data will be accessible using an online platform where researchers can observe in detail the behavior of the bears. The GPS tracking collars will also offer a VHS transmitter that will help the researchers monitor the black bears in their dens during the periods where hibernation occurs or when the animals are simply relaxing in their dens. Another cool feature of the GPS tracking collars is that they were engineered and programmed to automatically detach from the black bears at the conclusion of the study.