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Instructions for removing a bear tooth

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 the hunters' 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

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

Step 2. Utilize 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

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

Step 3. Utilize a small screw-driver to gently loosen the tooth.

bear tooth removal

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

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

bear tooth removal

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

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

bear tooth removal

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.

graphic showing the annual growth of a tooth

Annual growth of a tooth.


Contact information
For information on bear tooth removal and aging, contact:
Maggie Stewart
Assistant Big Game Ecologist
608-261-7588
Last revised: Tuesday September 05 2017