The biggest problems black bears face are misconceptions that lead people to kill bears rather than coexist with them. People are the number one cause of death for black bears, and people are moving into bear habitat like never before. Their attitudes will determine the fates of the bears that live around them. The Wildlife Research Institute (WRI) is working to replace myths with scientific fact through research and education.
What makes us effective
Our Educational Outreach Program is effective in reaching millions of people because WRI focuses simply on getting out accurate information, often working behind the scenes and without credit. W RI is a recognized storehouse of scientific information utilized by large organizations like National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, BBC, University of Minnesota, Smithsonian Institute, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and others. Much of the scientific information on black bears in recent museum exhibits, TV programs, radio programs, books, magazine articles, and newspaper articles originated from WRI. Biologist Lynn Rogers does additional outreach through lectures, workshops, and consulting across the country. He has written over a hundred scientific articles and serves as editor on many TV scripts, book manuscripts, and scientific articles to assure accuracy before they reach the public. WRI is encouraged that people are now allowing bears to repopulate areas where they once were eliminated. The Wildlife Research Institute will continue its work as long as it is able. Dr. Rogers donates his time, along with all fees from lectures, consulting, and other research-related activities, to the Wildlife Research Institute.
WRI is conducting the largest educational outreach program ever done for bears. The purpose is to replace misconceptions with facts, which is the most basic need in bear management. WRI reaches over a hundred million people a year. These people include professionals and the general public. The outreach program includes:
WRI personnel train wildlife professionals at WRI field courses near Ely, Minnesota, and in classes in other cities. Wildlife professionals include conservation officers, wildlife managers, wildlife information specialists, park rangers, wildlife technicians, etc.
Consulting for government wildlife agencies
WRI personnel are frequently called upon as consultants for government wildlife agencies on bear behavior and human conflict. This involves conference calls and/or serving on scientific panels or committees in various states or provinces.
Training NGO leaders
Leaders and participants of US and Canadian non-governmental organizations participate in courses at the Wildlife Research Institute Field Station near Ely, Minnesota. The most popular course is "Bear conservation in their increasingly urbanized environment," which deals with bear behavior, ecology, and bear-human conflict.
Graduate students and undergraduate interns assist in the research.
Teaching teachers and the public
WRI reaches a variety of professionals and the general public through field courses near Ely, Minnesota. Participants include teachers, professors, authors, artists, students, wildlife rehabilitation specialists, hunters, and the general public. Participants observe bears, attend lectures, and participate in discussions. In the process, they obtain a summary of what has been learned during four decades of research around Ely. Participants leave the course knowing more about black bear behavior, vocalizations, body language, hibernation, ecology and human conflict than most biologists.
WRI personnel work with newspaper reporters, TV reporters, and magazine writers on most major bear issues in the news. Work is "on the record" or behind the scenes to assure the best coverage possible of bear issues in the news. WRI personnel also frequently advise text writers for TV programs and documentaries about bears. Responsible organizations like National Geographic, BBC, Animal Planet, and Discovery Channel are frequent clients.
WRI personnel work with book writers to replace misconceptions with facts. Children's book authors and outdoor magazine writers are frequent clients.
Editing scientific journal articles
WRI personnel provide scientific review for editors of the top professional journals in the wildlife field, including the Journal of Wildlife Management, Wildlife Society Bulletin, Journal of Mammalogy, Canadian Field Naturalist, Ecology, Ursus, Canadian Journal of Zoology, and others.
TV programs and documentaries about the research
TV programs about the research and the bears reach large audiences. The documentary "The Man Who Walks With Bears" has aired over 70 times on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and PBS since 2001, with each airing available to over 80 million households. Ten TV programs about the research aired in 2007 on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, ESPN Outdoors Channel, and other networks around the world. In 2007, several programs were filmed for airing in 2008. These include a National Geographic special and a BBC sequel to "Planet Earth." In 2008, BBC and Animal Planet are planning a joint documentary on bears in their increasingly urbanized environment.
Traveling museum exhibit
WRI and the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota produced a traveling museum exhibit that travels the US and Canada.
WRI created www.bear.org and www.bearstudy.org. These are the award-winning websites recommended by New York Times, Washington Post, and Readers Digest Magazine as the "go-to" websites for authoritative bear information. Many newspapers, magazines, books, brochures, and other sources use information from these websites. The Minnesota DNR used extensive passages from these websites of its handbook for the Minnesota Bear Hunter Education Program. WRI fills frequent requests from creators of nature programs and museum exhibits to use sounds, photos, and information from these websites.
WRI personnel conduct lecture tours across the United States and Canada, reaching public, professional, university, and school audiences. In addition, WRI personnel do TV, radio, and newspaper interviews in cities where they give the lectures.
North American Bear Center
The newly opened North American Bear Center is the latest addition to the educational outreach program. WRI created the exhibits, which include videos of research bears updated weekly.