What is Episode 127 all about?
It is officially springtime in the Northern Hemisphere and bears all across the region are waking up from hibernation. Depending on your view of bears, this news either excites you, concerns you, or means nothing to you. Me, I’m personally excited as all get out! I love watching my social media blow up with the first bear sightings of the year.
However, I’m also aware that waking bears means another season of conflict. Their high intelligence, incredible sense of smell, almost insatiable hunger, and dwindling habitat lead them to places they shouldn’t go.
As bear populations recover and human settlements grow, we have to figure out ways to keep bears and humans safe. So, how do we coexist with bears? What does science say causes bears to leave their habitat and venture into ours? Are there ways to reduce conflict?
To teach us about North American black bears and grizzly bears, today we are sitting down with Stewart Breck, PhD, Research Wildlife Biologist at the USDA Wildlife Services and a Facility Affiliate in the Center for Human-Carnivore Coexistence at Colorado State University. Stewart studied all kinds of wildlife throughout grad school and felt a certain pull to bears after writing a research proposal to study bears in Rocky Mountain National Park. He didn’t land the role but never forgot about the fascinating species. Then, in the early 2000s fate and opportunity met, and he was hired by the USDA to reduce human-bear conflict and has been studying coexistence ever since.
Stewart and I have a fantastic time discussing how he became involved in human-bear conflict research, misconceptions about the USDA and why he loves working for the agency, black bear biology 101 and grizzly bear biology 101, the long-term black bear study he conducted in western Colorado, the work he is now doing with grizzly bears in Montana, and what science says we can do to reduce conflict with bears.
Really quickly before diving into the episode. I wanted to let you all know that I’m planning a listener meet-up! I’m working on the next big phase of the show and I want to hear from you. The meet-up will be an hour of me picking your brain, hearing what you love about the show, what can be improved, ideas for future episodes, listening to your stories, and enjoying a tasty beverage together. Don’t worry – participating won’t cost you anything. The meet-up will happen via Google Meets at 6 PM ET / 3 PM PT on May 16th. If you’d like to join, please let me know by emailing me at email@example.com, or sending me a DM on Instagram or Twitter. I can’t wait to meet you!
Alright, everyone. Please enjoy this conversation with Stewart.
Listen to this episode.
Watch this episode on YouTube.
Stewart in the Field
Links & Resources
Links Mentioned in the Show
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