Ground squirrels are studied because they are cheaper to deal with than hibernating grizzly bears.
“Bears are a little trickier to catch,” said Kelly Drew,a researcher and professor of the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Permits from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game allow trapping ground squirrels for research. They are euthanized at the end of the experiments. Federal law prohibits their reintroduction to the wild.
Drew said most of their tissue needs to be analyzed after the tests anyway.