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Black bears tracked in Deerfield

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DEERFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Monday morning, Gov. Deval Patrick was joined by Sec. Rick Sullivan and representatives from the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to participate in an annual black bear tracking expedition in Deerfield.

"The purpose is to understand more about our bear population and understand its rate of growth, the condition and health of our bears and to understand where they live - the habitat," said Tom O'Shea, assistant director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in Massachusetts.

Collars with built-in GPS unit have made it possible for biologists to continuously monitor black bears across the state and the nation.

Around 16 black bears now have GPS collars in the Commonwealth.

However, in order for biologists to track the mama bear and her cubs in an hour and a half, the process can be quite the "bear."

"We do immobilize the mother, and then reattach the collar, make sure it fits properly, collect condition of the bear in terms of its weight and so forth and their health, and then we reattach the collar, put the bear back in," O'Shea said.

On Monday, the mama bear weighed in at 180 pounds, a weight that biologists told CBS 3 is a smaller-sized bear.

Her two male cubs, barely old enough to keep their eyes open, were also weighed - coming in around 6 pounds each.

Although Western Mass has the largest black bear population in the state, biologists have noticed populations start to migrate as far east as Cape Cod.

However, that isn't the only thing that has changed over the years.

"Litters are actually growing in size, especially in suburban areas like Northampton where there may be more food at times. We're now seeing three cubs per litter, which is something that we didn't see as much years ago," O'Shea said.

Black bear tracking has been taking place in Massachusetts since the 1970s.

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