Explore Outdoors: Game Commission’s New Live Stream Puts You Inside a Black Bear Den

| March 25, 2019

Have you seen this? The Pennsylvania Game Commission recently launched a live black bear livestream on its website.

The video and audio is of a Monroe County female bear with at least one cub underneath the porch of a residence.

When I tuned in early Friday, they were both asleep. And who could blame them? It was in the mid-30s with a steady rain falling.

Things sure have come a long way since former PGC bear biologist Gary Alt started crawling into dens in the late 1970s to see what he could learn about bruins.

Over the years, I have had the good fortune to be with the Game Commission biologists when they were at two den sites that were home to sow bears with cubs.

While they both happened several years ago, the memories of those two occasions remain vivid to me to this day.

Nothing beats getting to hold a bear cub!

Bears will den in a variety of places. Going underneath camps and homes is something bears have been doing for a long time.

Sometimes they will dig out a den from an uprooted tree or build a nest underneath a blowdown or a pile a of tree tops from a logging job.

The main thing is that the location is warm and dry because that’s what the cubs need from the time they are first born until they are old enough to leave the den, which will be occurring in the next several weeks.

The Game Commission stream can be seen at www.pgc.pa.gov. For viewers, the livestreams provide round-the-clock, behind-the-scenes looks at wildlife, said Game Commission Bureau of Information and Education Director Steve Smith.

“These livestreams provide an incredible educational opportunity, allowing us to witness wildlife intimately in a manner that’s simply not possible in the wild with our own two eyes,” Smith said. “That’s one of the reasons they’ve proven so popular, and we’re proud to offer these two for viewers to enjoy in the coming months.”

There’s much to be learned about the bears in the den.

The adult female has ear tags that indicate she previously was handled by Game Commission staff. While video from the den has not clearly shown the numbers on those tags, as the days pass, and especially as the bears move more, the tag numbers seem certain to provide some details about the bear’s past.

It’s also not yet known how many cubs are present in the den because they’re nestled so closely to their mother. With time, however, the answer will become obvious. Pennsylvania’s black bears usually are born in January and begin walking in about eight weeks. They leave the den when 3 months old.

It’s the second livestream the agency has launched this year. The snow-goose migration livestream, which provides a 24-hour-a-day look at waterfowl off Willow Point at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, launched Feb. 26 and can be accessed from the Snow Goose Migration Update page accessed through Quick Clicks.

Take a few minutes to enjoy both of these streams, they really are something!

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