How to get blood from a grizzly bear and remain safe
Drawing blood from captive bears is important in monitoring their health and in providing biological material for numerous research projects. To minimize stress on captive bears, WSU Bear Center personnel demonstrate how they have been able to do this by working with the bears.
Grizzly bears are very curious and highly motivated! Watch our WSU bears enjoy themselves in a few various enrichment activities throughout the active season.
As the days shorten and get colder during the months of September and October, you can tell winter is on the way- and so can the WSU bears. It’s not unusual to see some of our bears, especially those that came to our facility from the Yellowstone Ecosystem, begin to exhibit behaviors indicative of hibernation preparation. Often during this time of the year appetites will dwindle and individuals will gather and drag debris like grass and bark inside their permanent den areas signaling their desire to make a cozy bed. Our more industrious residents will take it upon themselves to start constructing their own den out in the exercise yard.
Seen in the video is Oakley, an 18 year old female, making good progress in late October on a den initially started by two of our adult males about a week prior to hibernation officially beginning. The other adult females appear to be content to watch her work. While it is very impressive to observe the bears dig, ultimately annual hibernation occurs inside their structurally sound and camera-equipped artificial dens, located inside the Bear Center facility.
May enrichment in the Yard
Adak, Dodge, Willow and Adak, our four, 4.5year old bears, enjoy a summer afternoon in the yard eagerly seeking out their enrichment items. Each day the bears are provided various form of enrichment including puzzle feeders incorporating plastic balls, PVC, fire hose and chain as well as food items hidden throughout the yard area.
Foot training for Grizzly bears at WSU
Wow, it BEARly took any effort! Seen here are two of our four “wild” bears, who can claim Yellowstone as their first home, receiving rewards for voluntary blood draw training. Frank, John, Cooke and Oakley are two male and two female 17 year old adult grizzly bears that reside at the WSU Bear Center. Until the Spring of 2019, they had received minimal training for these types of activities. Within one month of focusing on gaining their trust and understanding, all four of these individuals had quickly picked up the concept, quickly responding to our clicker training and food rewards. Our group was amazed at how perceptive the bears were and the degree of patience they exhibited to work with us and through our mistakes to achieve this impressive feat.
Bear Conservation and Research at Washington State University
Joy Erlenbach, a PhD student at the WSU Bear Center, discusses the many facets of her research as well as her extensive experience collecting data on bears in Alaska. She also shares her experiences getting her PhD at WSU, including the intimate bonds she has formed over the years with our bears here in Pullman.
Meet the WSU researchers who study the bears, as they provide a brief overview of their involvement with the Bear Center and their research focus.
Changing Tides: Bear Observations
Graduate student Joy Erlenbach discusses the bear observation portion of the Changing Tides Project, a research project examining the interconnections between intertidal invertebrates, bears, and humans in Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks and Preserves.
Key to Human Heart Disease Could Lie with Hibernating Grizzly Bears
Washington State University’s Bear Center is currently looking at hibernation and how a bear can survive with a very low heart rate for an extended period of time.