AUGUSTA, Maine — Teeth taken from black bears shot by hunters in Maine reveal a lot about their ages and health.
For one thing, the teeth show that older bears make up a smaller proportion of the harvest. Just over one-third of the bears shot be hunters are three years old or older.
The Maine wildlife department received bear teeth from more than 1,000 hunters, more than a third of those who harvested a bear in 2008. The oldest bear was a 28-year-old female, and the oldest male bear was 20 years old.
Knowing their ages helps biologists gauge the health of Maine’s black bears.
Bear hunters who submitted bear teeth to the state can find out the age of the bear they harvested in 2008 on the game department’s Web site.