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Photos: Anchorage urban bears wearing video cameras

Sean Farley, bear biologist.
Loren Holmes photo
Bear 16, a black bear wearing a collar that records video, part of biologist Sean Farley's research.
Courtesy ADF&G
Bears going after garbage in southcentral Alaska.
Courtesy Dan Rosenberg / ADF&G
A still image taken from a bear collar video camera, part of a research project by bear biologist Sean Farley.
Courtesy ADF&G
A still image taken from a bear collar video camera, part of a research project by bear biologist Sean Farley.
Courtesy ADF&G
Sean Farley, bear biologist. April 10, 2013
Loren Holmes photo

Led by Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Sean Farley, the project to film Anchorage's urban bears suspended cameras under animals' chins and recorded 10 seconds of video every five minutes for black bears and every 20 minutes for brown bears. The cameras were mounted to collars also equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) devices, which pinpointed the bears’ locations every 20 minutes.

By putting cameras on bears and letting them act naturally, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game hopes to gain useful information about the lives and habits of urban bears. Farley designed the camera-collar project and is the lead investigator.

The project is a joint effort by research and management biologists and education specialists. Farley and his assistant Tony Carnahan are analyzing the urban bear movements documented by the GPS collars and using the videos to characterize what they call “fine-scale diet and resource use.” This involves scanning every second of video recorded by the bears to determine what they were doing and where they were doing it.

If feeding, on what exactly? If moving, how fast? Other behavioral categories include interactions with other bears, wildlife, and people; feeding on garbage, birdseed, or pet food, as well as natural foods; and, of course, scratching, or grooming as Farley calls it.

Read more: Anchorage bears are Alaska's newest film stars