Researchers from Unity College and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW) are seeking information from residents of the Dixmont, Troy, Benton, Thorndike, Unity, and adjoining areas who spot bears.  Residents may report their sightings by contacting Jennifer Whelan, Administrative Assistant to Instruction and Advising Services at Unity College by phone at (207) 948-9269, or e-mail

Specific information sought includes the location of the bear, date and time of observation, along with contact information of the person who spotted the bear for follow-up questions.

The multi-year study involves both Unity College faculty and students and includes the trapping, tracking, and in at least one case, attachment of a video camera to a Maine black bear.

In service to Unity’s trans-disciplinary approach to ecological problem solving, some students participating in the study will also apply their work on the study to other college classes. For instance, some students will incorporate their GIS analysis into an applied GIS course with Instructor Kathleen Dunckel, and Assistant Professor Cheryl Frederick will guide students through analyses of the video footage and scats.  Assistant Professor Brent Bibles will be designing the hair snare protocols and setting them out, and helping to collect data for another course. Associate Professor Tom Mullin will incorporate some of the bear study analysis into developing a website and outreach materials to the general public in the area advising on co-existence with bears.  The study is under the direction of Associate Professor George Matula and involves over 60 students.

In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including for its focus on sustainability science, the leading-edge of 21st century ecological problem solving and the vanguard in the fight for the mitigation of global climate change, 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 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.

Monday, March 11, 2013