The Unity College Bear Study
A multi-year study
The multi-year bear study involved both faculty and students and included trapping, tracking, collecting and analyzing biological and DNA data, and in at least one case, the attachment of a video camera to a Maine black bear.
In cooperation with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Unity College Bear Study team did hands-on research to provide information on a recolonizing bear population in south-central Maine. Students worked with faculty mentors to capture, tag, tattoo, measure, weigh, collect biological and DNA data, and radio-collar bears to collect movement data and monitor activity.
While most students involved in the study were in the Wildlife Biology and Wildlife & Fisheries Management programs, students from other disciplines participate in aspects of the Bear Study as well, another example of the College’s approach to transdisciplinary problem solving. They helped obtain landowner permission; pre-baited potential trap sites; set up trail cameras; analyzed video footage; analyzed biological and DNA data; designed educational and outreach materials; developed databases; and used GIS tools to analyze movement data, identified property boundaries, kept track of bait and trap sites, and designed black bear habitat models.
Students involved in the Bear Study had the opportunity to present their research findings as presentations and posters at scientific conferences, scientific publications, popular literature, national and local media, Facebook, video, and other outlets. After publication of its one-year study, the Unity College Bear Study gained national attention. The second year report was released in October 2014 and the project was completed in June 2015.