OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST, Ark. (KTHV) - Nursing black bears across the state are in their dens.
It's this time every year that Arkansas Game and Fish gets updates on the number of black bears in the state.
THV11 tagged along for a trip through the Ouachita National Forest for an up close look at a bear den.
"You don’t get to go hold five-pound baby bear cubs every day," said Myron Means, large carnivore coordinator, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Black bear cubs have yet to leave their mother's side, but this time every year, game and fish ventures out to track adult female black bears.
"Whether you love to watch bears, whether you love to hunt bears, whether you just like knowing bears are out there, that’s what we’re charged with," said Means.
It was a quick trip to find Betty, a 300-pound black bear with two male cubs. A harmless dart knocked her out for a while, allowing her two male cubs to get a glimpse outside their home.
Arkansas game and fish have been monitoring Betty for about 10 years. They've seen her have six litters so far. Her current two cubs are about six weeks old.
A few measurements help them keep track of the bear’s health.
"They’re a healthy size for their age," said Means.
It helps them track the state's reproduction and survival estimate.
According to Arkansas Game and Fish, the state's black bear population has been steadily increasing over the past 20 years, with the number currently sitting at around 5,000.
"That’s kind of where we want to keep the population right now," said Means.
These male cubs only stay with their mother for a year until they're forced to venture out on their own.
The group named the two bear cubs “Double” and “Trouble.”