Sardines are an acquired taste for people . . . but not for bears.
For them, sardines are a gourmet meal.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry plans to take advantage of that to update our bear population data for the province, especially in areas where there are concerns about the sustainability of the bear population.
Starting May 14, ministry staff will conduct barbed wire hair trap surveys in several parts of northwestern, northeastern, and southern Ontario.
Staff will set up survey stations with sardines to encourage local black bears to follow their noses right to the stations, where they'll have to rub up against some barbed wire as they go for the fish.
As they rub against the wire, it leaves behind a small hair sample that can be sent for DNA analysis.
That data, in turn, will help determine the number of bears in areas surrounding the survey line, as well as which are returning bears and which are “unique” ones.
Ministry staff will be wearing brightly-coloured safety vests and there will be signs up, and the stations also will be marked.
Anyone who comes upon the survey locations is asked not to touch the station to protect the integrity of the survey data.