June 1, 2017
An Unforgettable Hug
- as seen by -Eric Januszkiewicz
As a researcher at the Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory, a part of East Stroudsburg University, I have had a lot of unique opportunities to work with North American wildlife—rattlesnakes, elk, wolves, and many others. One of my favorite scientific outings involved black bears.
Each spring, New Jersey Fish and Wildlife and Pennsylvania Game Commission invites our lab to assist in tagging black bears for conservation purposes. The officers locate a den site, anesthetize the residing bear so it can be tagged, and we collect blood samples and ticks to be tested for pathogens.
Sometimes, we get lucky, and the bear has cubs—this season, it was a female with four of them. It was part of our job to keep the young bears warm. As we held them close, they fell asleep in our arms. When the time came to put them back with their mother, I didn’t want to give up the little bear. I had a thought for a moment that maybe she wouldn’t miss just one of them, but I knew I had to let it go.
It was a great day getting to hold a bear cub and help conserve a species.