Barbed wire bear survey collects hair for data

MUSKOKA — Bears love sardines.

MNRF staff are baiting bears with sardines to collect hair samples for DNA data testing.

For people sardines are an acquired taste, but not for bruins they’re a gourmet meal.

So 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, says Jamie Prentice, regional outreach specialist for the southern region, in Peterborough.

Starting this week (Monday, May 14), ministry staff have begun conducting barbed wire hair trap surveys in several parts of northwestern, northeastern and southern Ontario, including Muskoka.

MNRF 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 will help us determine  the number of bears in areas surrounding the survey line and also which are returning bears and which are unique’ bears,” says Prentice.

“Our staff will be wearing brightly coloured safety vests and there will be signs up and the stations will also be marked. We ask anyone who comes upon the survey locations not to touch the station to protect the integrity of the survey data.”

For more information, including survey locations, please refer to the following website:

Bears trying to reach a favourite treat will have to brush by safe barbed wire, which will collect hair samples.