In recognition of shared values and ideals, the Maine Chapter of Safari Club International (SCI) has offered a generous donation to the Unity College Bear Study.  The study is currently being conducted in the Unity, Maine area.

Prior to the presentation of the donation in the Alison M. Hall Welcome Center at Unity College, members of the bear study team led Phil Buker, Maine Chapter President of SCI, on a campus tour.

SCI’s interest in the bear study, a first of its kind in the United States involving college undergraduates doing hands-on research with bears, reflects its commitment to wildlife conservation and education.

“SCI Maine is happy to support the Unity College Bear Study,” Buker said.  “Our board unanimously supported this donation to assist the study in recognition of its goals.”

At the presentation Buker was joined by Melik Khoury, Senior Vice President for External Affairs.  Khoury praised the donation and the positive impact it will have on the study, which in turn is gathering important information about bears in Maine.

“The generosity of the Safari Club International Maine Chapter is greatly appreciated,” Khoury said.  “Both Unity College and SCI are champions of wildlife conservation and education.  The College and SCI share quite similar missions.”

Khoury pointed out that graduates of Unity College and members of SCI also share a commitment to ensuring the sustainability of wildlife populations in Maine and across the globe.

Unity College and SCI have shared an association in recent years, with students attending the SCI annual national conference on several occasions.

“This bear research project is an outstanding opportunity for the community and students to work together. Both groups want to understand their neighbors, the Maine bears,” said Martha Nordstrom, Director of Development.  “Our appreciation for the efforts, projects, and objectives of the SCI Maine Chapter, and in particular for this donation, is profound.”

Avid sportsman, ’94 graduate and longtime Unity College employee Joe Saltalamachia, Interim Director of Admissions, says that SCI and the College share common interests and values.

“I have known for a long time that SCI and Unity College have a great deal in common,” said Saltalamachia.  “As a graduate of Unity College and member of SCI, I am proud of this donation on various levels.  I am especially proud from the perspective of one who has earned a degree in wildlife biology.  Studies like this do not exist at the undergraduate level anywhere in the United States.  I’ll admit that I am a bit envious of the great hands-on work our students have the opportunity to do, which unfortunately was not offered to this extent when I was studying for my degree here.”

Since its founding in 1965, Unity College has consistently progressed to the point of achieving a national profile, allowing the College to weigh in on the most critically important environmental problems of the 21st century, significantly among them global climate change.  Many research and learning opportunities have been created through both official and unofficial partnerships.

The researchers working on the bear study are working with permission given by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW).  The multi-year bear study involves both faculty and students and includes the trapping, tracking, and in at least one case, attachment of a video camera to a Maine black bear. For more information on the Unity College Bear Study, please visit their Facebook page.

Associate Professor George Matula says that the Unity program, which is permitted by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), collects data similar to what MDIFW gathers in their three study areas. “They have been studying Maine black bears dating back to 1975,” Matula said.  “This initiative will provide opportunities for students to get involved in real-life, large mammal research and management that is unique for undergraduate students.”

Trapping of bears began in May with Matula and Lisa Bates ’08, a Wildlife Biologist contractor with the MDIFW, leading students to wildlife management District 23 in the Dixmont, Troy, and Benton areas.

The Maine Chapter of SCI is a charitable organization of hunter-conservationists that promotes wildlife conservation and education, hunting as a wildlife management tool, and services for people in need. To these purposes, SCI Maine supports the Sportsman Against Hunger Program and is an active contributor to educational programs on both the local and national level. Support of education and the American Wilderness Leadership School, along with scholarships for youngsters and teachers, ensures the continuation of our hunting heritage for future generations.

In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including its focus on sustainability science; its ground-breaking “green” innovations such as the award-winning TerraHaus, the first student residence on a college or university campus built to the Passive House standard, the most energy efficient building standard in the world; and for being the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels, igniting a growing national movement in higher education.

Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013