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Instructions for Bear Tooth Removal

The collection of teeth from hunter-harvested bears is a critical component in Wisconsin's bear management program. These teeth allow biologists to determine the age structure of the population, the age when females first reproduce and consecutive cub production. Hunters are critical in the department's ability to scientifically manage Wisconsin's bears. Your cooperation is appreciated, thank you.

In-person registration stations will not collect or submit a tooth on behalf of hunters. It is each hunter's responsibility to submit a tooth to the department. It is not an option.

Step 1. Locate the first upper-premolar which is the first tooth located behind the upper canine.

bear tooth removal 1

Location of first upper-premolar (Photo courtesy of Nate Libal)

Step 2. Use a knife to cut the gum tissue around both sides of the tooth. Cut as deeply as possible
into the tissue to ensure the root can be removed without breaking.

bear tooth removal 2

Cut the gum tissue on both sides of the tooth (Photo courtesy of Nate Libal)

Step 3. Use a small screwdriver to gently loosen the tooth.

bear tooth removal 3

Loosen tooth with a flat-head screwdriver (Photo courtesy of Nate Libal)

Step 4. Remove the loosened tooth with pliers. If it cannot be easily removed, use a screwdriver and/or
pliers to further loosen the tooth.

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Remove loosened tooth using pliers (Photo courtesy of Nate Libal)

Step 5. Examine the removed tooth to ensure the root is intact. If the root is not intact or you are not sure,
remove the other upper-premolar.

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Inspect tooth to ensure root is intact (Photo courtesy of Nate Libal)

The root of the tooth is sectioned and stained. Once stained the tooth can be examined for growth rings which deposit annually in a manner similar to growth rings on a tree. Furthermore, due to the nutritional stress associated with raising a litter examining female teeth for rings that are close together is an indicator of past reproduction.

bear tooth cementum annuli

Annual growth of a tooth.