American Bear Association Bear Collaring Study

Orr, MN-June 10, 2016- The American Bear Association (ABA) is excited to announce that they have collaborated with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) and the Minnesota Bear Guides Association in the collaring of two adult female black bears, one of which has a cub. The Minnesota Bear Guides Association has aided the ABA with funding for this project to gain a better understanding of bears and their behaviors.


Dave Garshelis and Andy Tri, with the MN DNR, worked with ABA staff on June 6th, 2016, to conduct the radio collaring. Each bear was weighed and assessed to determine their overall health. The two bears were each fitted with a GPS radio-collar programmed to take locations every two hours and send these GPS waypoints and associated activity data to a satellite and then to a designated email, so the bears can be tracked continuously in near-real time.  Each bear was also tagged with large colored eartags so they can be easily observed from a distance.  Hunters are asked not to shoot collared bears, which can be identified by these large tags, as the collars may be hard to see. The collaring was done at the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary and provided an exclusive learning experience for staff, interns and volunteers as they watched Garshelis and Tri with the health assessment.


“Our partnership with the MN DNR is essential to the success of this study. This is an exciting opportunity for the American Bear Association since this has been a project that has been in the works for years and we are happy to see this goal fulfilled. It is important for us to get science behind what we are doing. We want to make sure we are doing the right thing here and we want to ensure that we are not creating more human and bear conflict. As we learn more from their activities, we can determine how much our supplemental feeding helps them during poor berry seasons.” says Dennis Udovich, president of The American Bear Association and The MN Bear Guides Association.



By compiling this data over the study period, we hope to gain knowledge on foraging behaviors, dispersal ranges, travel distances and travel corridors, den locations within proximity to the sanctuary and habitat use. “This was a goal that we set for ourselves when we joined the ABA staff in 2015. We never thought we’d be so fortunate to see it happen this soon. We are so excited about the possible knowledge we can gain from this  study and will use this data to adjust our supplemental feeding program as needed” says Ryan Horner (Chief Operations Manager), and Steph Horner (Director).


“The DNR has an interest in learning how the movements and activities of supplementally-fed bears differs from unfed bears,” commented Garshelis.  “The collars will last 3 years, so it is expected that the study will include seasons and years with differing natural food availability.”  Two more bears will be collared in late summer.  All collared bears will be visited in their winter dens to check the fit of the collar and also obtain information on weight and health of the bears.


About The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary

 The American Bear Association was established as a nonprofit organization in 1995. Thousands of people visit the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary every year to view and learn about black bears, their behavior, habitat needs and life cycles. It is known by photographers as “the best place in North American to photograph wild black bears in their natural habitat.” The Sanctuary is open to the public each Tuesday through Sunday, from 5PM to 8PM, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. They are closed on Mondays, except for Monday, July 4th. September 4th is their last day of operation for the 2016 season. For more information visit the website Or follow us on the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary Facebook page.