Bear Course Participants' Comments
Thanks for a very special experience at the Black Bear Field Study Course I attended in May. Since we live in the north Georgia mountains, we encounter lots of black bears around the house all summer long. I had heard so much conflicting information about them that I sometimes found coping with the situation very confusing. After attending your course, reading your online material, and visiting the North American Bear Center where you provide incredible videos that are such an important part of your research, I feel much more comfortable living with the bears we have here in the Georgia mountains. I’ve also been able to discuss what I’ve learned with neighbors who also want to know how we can live harmoniously with our neighborhood bears. Allowing small groups of us to learn first-hand about black bears is an invaluable service, both to bears and to people. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your research in the coming years. Janice E. - Georgia
Having finally satisfied a long time desire to attend the WRI bear course in August, I was amazed at the educational opportunities that existed. It's a shame the general public can not witness firsthand, the gentleness of these much feared creatures. Perhaps many perceptions of the black bear would change for the better. Not exactly unfamiliar with bears, I was skeptical of what else there was to learn that I did not already know, but soon found the answer to be " plenty ". I thank both Sue and Dr Rogers for the enlightenment. The meals were as great as our personal encounters with the bears. Thanks for a great learning experience and vacation. Dave S. - New Jersey BEAR group
In the 2 years I've attended the Bear Course I've learned invaluable information. Each year I learned something new by observing and interacting with the bears. I've also used this information to educate friends and co-workers about bear behavior, answering their many questions. Each bear I've found to be different and unique as we humans are. Dr. Lynn Rogers has inspired me to continue a life long interest in our Black Bears, and I can't wait to join the bears again in 2008! Juanita C. - New York
I'm never disappointed with my visits to the black bear workshops in Ely. Although this summer was my third trip, I still found my time filled with novel experiences, awe inspiring scenery, and additional knowledge about these amazing creatures we know as American black bears. The others who share these encounters with you are of all ages from all different places with diverse backgrounds and lives, but somehow the bears bring us all together and we become a family. There is always something to do and new bears to meet on a personal level. And sometimes it's just great to sit back on the deck and watch nature, which is always inspirational and uplifting. Felicia O. - Master Wildlife Conservationist Connecticut, The Bear Reality (bear education and outreach)
My experience at the WRI Black Bear Field Study Course was equal parts profundity and bliss. I would have never imagined I would have been able to have such close, intimate contact with wild bears. While the course taught me a whole new way to think about and experience bears and other wildlife, the pure joy of interacting with such magnificent animals was absolutely unmatched by anything I've previously done. And the food and company were pretty darn good too! Peter N. - California
I personally found the information you presented greatly increased my knowledge and understanding of black bear biology and behavior even after working with management of this species for more than 20 years. The experience of interacting with and observing wild black bears at the research station and in the "woods" during the course of study helped broaden my perspective and increase my appreciation of this often misunderstood forest dweller. Also of great value were the impromptu discussions we had covering a wide variety of issues surrounding black bear and human interaction. Those conversations and the knowledge you two shared were extremely valuable for me, providing insights I will put to use in policy and management decisions as well as public educational opportunities regarding bears in my state. I look forward to hearing more about your findings in the black bear research arena and continuation of all the good things you have started for bears and people alike. Ken J. - Wildlife Supervisor, Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsi
As the Namekagon District Interpretive Park Ranger for the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway, I am constantly confronted with questions about bears. The answers I gave people before taking your course were based only on what I read and heard, but not on direct experience with bears or interactions with experts. Spending time with both of you and your study bears gave me a much deeper, more nuanced understanding of this species. Most importantly, your course provided me with the tools to be a much more effective interpreter for the hundreds of Park visitors who come to me seeking black bear information. Branda T. - National Park Service, Wisconsin
The Black Bear Field Study Course exceeded my expectations! I learned a tremendous amount about the bears and their behavior from Lynn and through observation of these magnificent animals. More importantly, an understanding of these animal's timid nature and specific body language has given me the confidence to hike and camp in bear country. I heartily recommend this course to those that would like to learn more about bears, are apprehensive about hiking or camping in areas where bears are present. Paul H. - Manitob
Bear courses are awesome: the wonderful people, the beautiful places, but most of all the bears themselves, as they really are - gentle and timid - allowing trustworthy humans to share a bit of their world. For a "wildlife experience" it doesn't get any better than this! Mary B. - New Jersey
Growing up in northern Minnesota, I always had a fear of bears. It took me longer than most before I had a certain level of comfort with the bears during the course. All of the behaviors that I have been taught to be aggression on the bears part, I learned are actually their own fear. I found the bears to be trusting of me. I was the cautious one! What an educational experience this has been. I've not only learned valuable information, made new friends, (human and furry) but I've left with an incredible joy that I haven't had in my life for a long time. Thank you Lynn and Sue for letting me be a part of this remarkable experience. Melanie V. - Minnesota
I never imagined that 20 minutes after arriving I would be learning about the gentle nature of black bears firsthand. John M. - New Mexico
We attended the WRI Black Bear Course in July of 2006 and again in July of 2007, and each experience was unique. In '06 bears visited the feeding stations at the research institute constantly, day and night, which gave participants an opportunity to observe, photograph and interact with them without even leaving the area. In July of '07, with wild food plentiful in the woods, there were fewer bears visiting us, creating an opportunity to track them in the woods, using telemetry equipment and the hard-earned trust of these bears won by Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield during years of research. Seeing a wild black bear suddenly appear through the trees in the Minnesota North Woods was magical, and when, a few moments later, she signaled to her 6 month-old cubs that it was safe for them to climb down from the top of a White Pine and approach, we felt like the most fortunate people on earth just to be there watching. As long-time wildlife rehabilitators, we have found that many people needlessly fear wild animals based on misinformation and a lack of knowledge, and that mistaken perceptions can translate into policies on the local, state and federal level that are harmful to wildlife. This course educated us about the behavior of real black bears, without the fear and myth so often passing as knowledge. Dianne O. & Lee M. - Texas
Good Morning Bear
Clothed in folds of hair and hide,
Grace and strength they do abide,
Not unlike a clown, you hide
Gentle spirits, deep inside.
What knowing trick did nature play,
Assigning you to be this way?
Might to hold the world at bay,
Yet timid, meek and full of play.
A solitary life you lead,
Driven by the basic need
To forage, daily, for your feed.
How well you hold, to nature's creed.
In these woods of birch and pine,
Living nature's grand design,
Brawn and beauty do combine.
You have touched this heart of mine.
Written by Brian McNamar on July 9, 2007 at the end of a Black Bear Field Course, inspired by BB King, a 10-year-old male black bear.
If you love black bears, want all the knowledge you can get on black bears, enjoy good company and good food, this coarse has it all !!!! Worth every penny !!!! Debbie L. - Pennsylvania
My experience with the bears was enlightening, informative, practical, and intimate. The program is both safe and inspiring, and unravels the myths that are fear-based, replacing them with a template of how the human world and the animal world can be in relationship with each other in a peaceful, spacious way. I am forever changed! Dorothy M. - Connecticut
I am 70 years old and didn't know if I could keep up with the "younger set" such as Lynn and everyone else. It was a very enjoyable and educational course and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys wildlife, especially black bears. Joyce O. - Iowa
I want to thank you again for the great time we had at the research facility. Larry, Bob, and myself thought that was one of the best vacations we have ever taken. You folks are so knowledgeable and friendly that it just adds to the experience. It was great to see so many bears at the research center, but we really enjoyed our time in the field too. This trip was like a dream, to spend time with knowledgeable research people and have bears walking all around us. When we returned home from our trip, we tried to tell our friends at camp about the experience. Unfortunately, I don't think words can describe this trip. Everybody needs to experience it for themselves. Thank you for everything. Tim W. - bear hunter, Pennsylvania
I was thrilled to be allowed into the wonderful world of bears...their quiet, cautious, and gentle ways of being wild! Debbie M. - Connecticut
The bear study course not only brought me closer to nature, it helped me to better understand the bear's habitat and provided an up close look at how it survives in the wild. The experience was eye-opening in so many ways especially in that it removed so much fear that I had been taught to have towards these magnificent creatures. To watch a mother bear interact with her cubs up close is absolutely priceless. When I returned home, I talked for weeks about this trip, about the bears, about Lynn Rogers, and now I show anyone I can the video we made of our trip. Thank you so much...to all of you. Sharri R. - California
On our drive back to the airport in Minneapolis we all discussed what a surreal experience this had been. We had hoped to see a few bears but never thought that we would see 15-20 per day and be able to recognize them and know their family lineage! Tom J. - Indiana
The days I spent in Ely at the Black Bear Course are unforgettable. It was a marvelous experience. Till this day, when the duties of this life overwhelm me , I just think about those magic days I lived and an easy smile comes to my face. It was my dream vacation. I never felt so happy in my life. Being at the Wildlife Research Institute, enjoying the peace and beauty of the place, knowing that the bears were around, seeing them in their habitat as close as you could never imagine it's hard to describe. You have to live it. More than that, what also made this course special was the people. Almost all of us felt the same excitement when we were close to the bears. That was a very comfortable feeling. Either if you are going because you love bears (as I do), or if it's because you fear them and want to learn more about them, I highly recommend this class. Also, if you want to take a "different" vacation and slow down a little bit on this busy "techy" life this class will do it. I can swear to you I never , ever thought about work while being there (I think I only called my husband once to tell him how wonderful it was !) It was like being in a different world. Even though where I live is almost a copy of the location where the Wildlife Research Institute is, I still felt I was in a unique place. A place where you will breathe black bears , joys and spiritual comfort. A wonder vacation. Angela M-L. - California
I had a wonderful time. I am an avid outdoorsman and have hunted and hiked much of the US and Canada. In the first 2 hours at the Bear Center, I saw more bears and cubs than I have seen in all the rest of my 61 years. If it is bear sightings you want, that is the place. Thanks for the experience and your dedication to the study and preservation of a wonderfully interesting animal. Randy L. - Indiana
I was fortunate enough to attend the black bear field study course at the Wildlife Research Institute in Ely, Minnesota. I was sent on the course by my employer, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, and was accompanied by one of our regional biologists, Kim George. I have worked as a Wildlife Technician with the Department for over 30 years, and have been involved with black bear issues since 1986. A large part of my job during the summer and fall is spent dealing with the public about black bears on their properties. When it comes to bears, education is the key and I believe the more the public learn about this fascinating, woods creature, the less they may fear the animal. Although I have handled many bears over the years in the course of my job, the bears were either in traps, tranquilized or had died for various reasons. Attending the bear course gave me an opportunity to spend time with black bears while they were in their natural habitat. This intimate contact with bears was an extremely rewarding experience. I was also able to observe many different size bears as they came to the bait stations at the research institute. Both Dr. Rogers and Ms. Mansfield were extremely knowledgeable about bears and were able to provide detailed information on bear ecology and bear signs. I would highly recommend this course to any person who has a natural interest in black bears or deals with black bears in their work environment. Jenny C. - Wildlife Technician, Department of Natural Resources, Nova Scotia
My black Bear experience began with curiosity, respect and fear. I attended my first Black Bear course in 2004. I established in just a few minutes upon meeting Blackheart and her cubs Sunshine and Solo there was nothing to fear. The curiosity and total respect for the beasts kicked in. I found in a big beautiful male bear, Jack the passion that now rules my life.
In 2005-2006, I also attended courses with specific attentive learning aspects. I wanted to learn body language, (posturing) characteristics and personalities, which one learns very quickly from the course. The next aspect of learning came from walking with the different bears, applying learned knowledge to sign and knowing the difference between a bluff charge and the common spoken language of the black bear.
Dr. Rogers and Sue Mansfield share their years of experience and education in the field of black bears. The culmination of attending these courses has led to providing programs on black bears to a greater extent within the Ely area and also at my home in Michigan.
The highlight of the course in 2006 was doing a field walk with Sue and June Bear. It is with great admiration and respect for the field researcher that I say, Highlight. It was a life changing experience as is just being with the bears. Sharon H. - Michigan
I had the most amazing experience of my life. I was dreaming of it on the long ride home. I was sad to leave. I learned a lot this weekend, and I definitely want to come back for a week and learn more. My family and friends are going crazy over my video. I really can't even explain it to them. I have a different outlook on black bears now. You don't know how happy I am that I was there. Do you know of any other researchers who maybe take interns, even volunteer interns, to research black bears? I would love to suck up as much information as I can. I won't rely on books anymore. Thanks again. Andy P. - New York
Rarely have life changing experiences come into my life, but participating in two of WRI's unique black bear courses did just that for me. The unforgettable experiences at WRI taught me how to respect and enjoy the company of these magnificent animals and opened a window into a world I never knew existed. I had not expected the lasting impression it would have on me, along with the desire to do whatever I could to improve their lives so future generations will understand and enjoy them also. These awesome Minnesota black bears will leave their imprint on your hearts just like they did on mine! Judy M. - Minnesota
We had such a wonderful time with those amazing, beautiful, wondrous bears. Jere & Ron M. - Colorado
I don't know anywhere else a person can have personal encounters with bears such as we have had the last few days here. The Black Bear Course is a world-class operation that exceeded our expectations, and our expectations were high. Roger & Terrie A. - New Mexico
We have traveled around the world. The Black Bear Course is unique in its intimate, personal encounters with wildlife, especially bears. We learned a lot. We would never have guessed how intelligent, gentle, and sensitive these wild animals can be. Ted & Sherry G. - California
I'm writing today to thank you very, very much for one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. Being able to look into the eyes of the bears that you introduced me to changed me forever. Connecting with these bears filled me with a sense of their sensitivity and incredible intelligence. Since returning home, I have been dreaming about them every night and thinking about them many waking moments. I have left a piece of my heart in Ely. Again, thank you so very much. Edie S. - New Jersey