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Game Commission studies bear population in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Game Commission studies bear population in Pennsylvania. (WJAC)

JOHNSTOWN - It may be the first day of spring, but it is also a day of research for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

About a dozen officers headed into the woods Monday in Cambria County to study the bear population and tag the newest cubs.

Three baby cubs were found in a den with their mother bear, hibernating until warmer weather breaks.

When officers first arrived, they tranquilized the mother bear, checked her health and did some tests before taking her cubs.

"We listen to their heart , check their palate. It's just a general prenatal examination," said Mark Ternent, a biologist who studies black bears.

Two males and a female, each weighing between four and eight pounds, were found Monday.

"It's about 8 weeks old but it was actually born at about 8 ounces. So, if it weighs in the neighborhood of four pounds right now, only eight weeks ago it weighed less than half a pound. So they grow very quickly in the den," said Ternent.

Each cub was checked by a bear biologist and a veterinarian to make sure it is in good health. The cubs were able tagged to keep track of the population levels in the state.

Though tagging may sound painful, Ternent said it's quick, easy and necessary.

"We ear-tag these cubs so we can see them a year later and measure things like survival dispersal, general health and population," said Ternent.

Monday's visit was one of several visits Game Commission officers are conducting at bear dens across the state.

The tranquilizer used on the mother bear is safe, Ternent said, and relatively short lasting.

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