Virginia Tech Bear Research Facility Set to Reopen - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Virginia Tech Bear Research Facility Set to Reopen

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A pair of nuisance black bears now call an old Virginia Tech research facility their temporary home. The brush has been cleared and the building has been cleaned since we last saw it in April.

Professor Marcela Kelly is in charge of the bear sanctuary just off the main campus.

"A lot of improvements have been made in things like the latches and locks, and the cages themselves are more secure," Kelly said.

One of her assistants showed us how they have been teaching students with stuffed animals until the bears get used to being in captivity and regulations are lifted so research can begin.

"We need to give the bears some time to acclimate. The change is very drastic from being in the wild to coming in this captive facility," said researcher Bernardo Mesa.

Researchers are hoping in about a month, they will be able to learn more from these wild animals, ultimately working to make both us and them safer.

They plan to use about $9,000 in state money to try and find out why the bears become a nuisance, and also foster lost or injured cubs into the wild.

"Say a mother bear gets hit by a car and she's got a couple of cubs, we are going to be able to use that facility to foster those cubs," Kelly said, "so that would help deal with that issue since it's pretty common in Virginia."

The bears will be released. The hope is to tag and track some of the bears if more money becomes available.