Heather - Army crawling through bear poop
In order to exchange radio telemetry collars on female black bears, and assess their reproductive success for the year, we conduct den searches every February when they have cubs. This particular mama built a very deep and narrow den, snuggling at the bottom of an approximately 8 foot tunnel with her 3 cubs. We have to get the cubs out before we pull mama out so they don’t get injured. We tranquilize the females, however anyone who has ever tranquilized an animal knows that it doesn’t always “take effect” the way it should.
So it was a bit unnerving to army-crawl down to the end of this tunnel (tow straps attached to my ankles for an emergency bail-out), pull mama’s head to the side, and pluck out her 3 cubs. I had dirt and dust in my mouth, a little bit of bear poop on my arms, and twigs in my hair (not to mention shaking hands!), but it was all worth it in the end. (And we put all the bears safely back inside the den when we are done, and mama wakes up from the ordeal with no ill effects, and they do not abandon their cubs due to “human scent” - just a disclaimer).