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Florida Officials Using Donuts To Help Count Bears Statewide

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A rescued Black Bear reaches for a treat. (credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

A rescued Black Bear reaches for a treat. (credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – Florida officials will use donuts to manage their black bear population.

Counting stations will be set up in areas away from neighborhoods. These stations, which will be surrounded by barbed wire, will use the donuts as bait for the bears.

“We’re hoping to prove our hypothesis that the bear population has greatly increased since 2002,” Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesman Greg Workman told WESH-TV.

Last official count came 12 years ago, with an estimated 3,000 bears statewide; however, reports of bears have increased recently.

“The frequency of phone calls, the frequency of sightings, there’s just a lot more out there,” Workman said.

The plan is to build these counting stations so bears will get a treat.  They are hoping the bears leave behind hair on the barbed wire they will need to squeeze through in order to get their treat.  Officials will then test the hair for DNA in order to determine if one bear keeps coming back for more or if many bears are coming.

Officials told the station that this will not hurt the bear. “It happens every day to them, it pulls a little bit off of them, and that’s it,” Workman said.

Experts say in order to control the bear population they need to know how many bears the state has.

This can also help officials figure out the bear population in certain regions and avoid having bears in neighborhoods.

“We want to know that the area we’re relocating these bears to, that we’re not over-saturating the area. We want to know there’s capacity left,” Workman told WESH.

Officials say the results of this study should be ready in about a year.

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