Unity College recently received a $15,000 grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund to investigate density, home range, recruitment, dispersal, and other population metrics of a colonizing black bear population in central Maine.
The grant will support the third year of a multi-year project used to inform Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife bear management objectives.
The project also provides practical, hands-on experience for Unity College students planning, implementing, and evaluating real-life, large mammal research and management.
“The experiential learning that the bear project offers students is a critical component of what makes Unity College unique,” Unity College President Dr. Stephen Mulkey said. “The students who participate in this project are well positioned to be successful in their careers with this hands-on experience.”
In fall 2012, Unity College initiated the Unity College Bear Study to investigate a colonizing bear population in central Maine by trapping, tagging, and radio-collaring bears near Unity in Waldo County.
Little is known about low-density, colonizing bear populations in Maine, which exist in areas with higher human densities and an increased potential for human-bear conflict. The Unity College Bear Study will help determine how population demographics differ between colonizing and established bear populations, and inform future management decisions by providing vital data for input into MDIFW’s Black Bear Management System and Database.
The Unity College Bear Study provides a unique opportunity for Unity College students to experience wildlife research in the field, and to familiarize themselves with the implications of research in the political environment in which natural resources management is embedded. The experience helps students learn how to apply practical wildlife research and management techniques and appreciate the important roles stakeholders play in the sustainable use of wildlife resources.
“The Unity College Bear Study is training the next generation of wildlife managers, who will one day occupy positions that influence Maine’s people and wildlife,” said Executive Vice President and Liaison to the Board of Trustees Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “The study exemplifies what the college has to offer students, and is a shining example of how we are achieving the objectives listed in our five-year strategic plan. It is programs like the Unity College Bear Study that will interest students from all over the country,” Khoury said.