Big Bear, Ca, May 19, 2011, 8:00am – The Department of Fish and Game are requiring bear hunters to pull a tooth from the skull of each bear taken during the 2011 black bear hunting season that will begin July 9th. This is a change from last year, when DFG only required that a tooth be pulled from every other bear harvested during the season. The change stems from a request by the California Fish and Game Commission which wants to take a closer look at the management of black bear hunting in California. “We currently manage black bear hunting at a statewide level, but we want to be doubly sure that we’re not negatively impacting local bear populations,” said Marc Kenyon, DFG’s Bear Program Coordinator. Since 2005, a tooth has been pulled from half of the bears legally taken during each hunting season. The teeth provide key insight into the bear population. A premolar is pulled from the bear’s mandible and processed at a Montana laboratory specializing in aging animals. The teeth are cut in half, stained and examined under a microscope. Lab technicians can then count the rings, called cementum annuli, which are deposited annually like tree rings. The number of rings indicate the age of the bear. Reproductive events can also be detected in female teeth. This information is then used to inform the Commission when deciding new hunting regulations. California’s black bear population is estimated to be higher than 30,000. Current hunting regulations allow up to 1,700 bears to be taken during the hunting season.