How the Automated Bear Trap Operates
The automated bear trap is a highly innovative culvert trap, designed and built by AE in Missoula, Montana. The ABT is a step forward in technology and bear safety. The automated features and proven structural design generate less stress for bears and other captured wildlife. It also allows personnel to make real-time active management decisions to reduce bear captivity time.
When using the older styled culvert traps, bears and other wildlife will sometimes remain captive in the trap for long periods of time. Researchers do not have the man-hours or funding to check certain traps more than once or twice a day and can check traps even less in more remote locations. If an animal is captured within a few hours after a researcher has already checked the trap, it would normally have to wait up to 24 hours before anyone even knew it was in the trap. The trapped animal may be injured or dead by the time a researcher returns to the site. The Automated Bear Trap allows trap users to know instantly when an animal is captured. Not only do they not have to travel out to the site to check a possibly empty trap in the first place, but they can also be sure of the exact time an animal is captured and can safely schedule the release of the animal accordingly.
Once the trap door closes, an e-mail, text message, and/or phone call is sent/placed to the bear trap administrator letting him/her know an animal has been caught. The administrator can then access a secure website to see the animal inside the trap using real-time video footage. Temperature sensors located inside and outside the trap allow managers to decide if the animal will overheat before they can make it out to the trap location. If the temperature inside the trap increases to an unsafe level, the administrator will receive another e-mail/text/phone call to reassess the situation and safety of the animal inside. Being able to view inside the trap allows researchers to make management decisions about whether the capture is the targeted bear or if it is a non-target capture. If the animal in the trap is not the correct species (ie: black bear and not a grizzly or vice versa) or not the conflict bear they are targeting, researchers can remotely open the trap door and release the animal. The non-target animal can be back out in the wild within 10-15 minutes of being captured instead of overheating and waiting in the trap for long periods of time for researchers to make it out to the trap site and manually lift the door.
If the captured bear needs to be sedated and have a tracking collar attached, the bear can be returned to the Automated Bear Trap for later release after the sedative wears off. Researchers can monitor the bear via the secure website as the effects of the sedative wears off. Once it is safe for the bear to leave the area, researchers can check both indoor and outdoor cameras to ensure there are no humans or predators in the area that can be injured. Features on the website allow for the trap door to be remotely opened and both the bear and biologists to safely continue their day.