"All my life, I just wanted to see a black bear in its natural surroundings. When I got to the Wildlife Research Institute, my goal was met within 5 minutes. It was such a thrilling learning experience - soaking in the rich knowledge and extensive experience in the informative learning sessions, and then deepening the learning in real life with the visiting bears. Finishing the course at the incredible North American Bear Center enriched and completed the experience. I feel much more confident as an advocate and informal educator for black bears now. I can't wait to do it again!"
Rachel - Oregon 2020
"I love animals! Especially bears! I finally got the opportunity by coming to the WRI for my 50 birthday.
I was fortunate enough for a number of years to observe Alaskan brown bears at a distance while working in the Alaskan salmon industry, but to get the opportunity to get up close and personal with wild black bears was a dream come true.
In the first 10 minutes on the property, I was able to feed Ursula! I will never forget that beautiful face of hers! Throughout my time spent there I took many pictures, but I don’t need to look at them as the images are permanently etched in mind.
It was hard to go to bed at night. Kind of like a kid at Christmas waiting for Santa—I didn’t want to miss any of the bear visits. Or like kids on Christmas morning—jumping out of bed at the crack of dawn to rush down the stairs to what treasures await to see eating on the deck.
I will never forget the feel of their lips and tongue on my hand when feeding the bears hazelnuts. I will also never forget having lunch outside with Pete, Bunny, Bramble, or Lucy on the picnic table. It was like they were part of the group—I guess they really were part of the bear course—no, vital to the bear course.
I minored in biology in college so I particularly enjoyed the educational talks by Dr. Rogers—learning something new; getting to hear some of his talks from all his years of research was enlightening.
I hope someday to observe closely polar bears in the wild, as they are my first love in the animal kingdom, and to be able to come back to the WRI for another round of courses. I participated in the first course of the season—seeing all the males come around post-mating season—would like to come back next time a little later to see mamas and her cubs.
My husband and I are already making future plans to live seasonally in the Northern Minnesota area so we can experience the wilderness of the area and possibly help dispel the bum rap that bears get from uneducated people.
I also spoke to Dr. Rogers regarding being the cook for the bear courses when JC is ready to retire. I would be there I a flash!!
To say that this experience was memorable is an understatement!"
Andrea - Iowa 2020
"Life Time Experience! No where will you get a more wonderful experience. Seeing wild bears in their natural habitat, watching bears interact with each other and seeing mom with their cubs. In addition, we learn from Dr Lynn Rogers, founder of the Wildlife Research Institute with 50 years of bear and wildlife research experience. The courses are held in the beautiful Minnesota Northwoods. This was my 6th Bear Study Course and I look forward to more courses."
Diane - Kansas 2020
"The Black Bear field courses are the greatest experience you can have over the summer. You learn so much about the bears and Things nature in a great and beautiful place. It’s the most amazing thing you will ever do."
Ernie - Maryland 2020
"Taking this course is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. To be so close to wild bears and witness their behavior for extended periods of time was truly special. It was also great to be able to spend time with Dr Rogers and Mike who are both extremely knowledgeable. The bear course was a wonderful experience and I will treasure those memories for ever."
Chuck - Massachusetts 2020
I was blessed to have been a part of Bear Study during the summer of COVID. I nervously awaited if our course would proceed or be cancelled. I was thrilled that on 6/3/20-which happened to be my 55th birthday I found out that our bear study course was on. The overall number of participants would be low and some changes would be needed to follow all the guidelines-but I didn't care I was going to get the chance to learn from Dr. Rogers and see bears in the wild.
This course was beyond my wildest expectations. I learned more about bears in my short time due to the generosity of Mike Johnson and Dr. Lynn Rogers. They graciously answered every question I had-sometimes I had to apologize for all the information I wanted to take in. Everyone was kind and patient and had great information to offer. By having a smaller group-we got to really be more hands on. I didn't realize all the work that goes into making sure the bears in the Ely area are safe and looked after.
Our hike to look for signs of bears yielded valuable information about the status of the bears food during a summer of drought. Dr. Rogers and Mike stated that this was maybe why we had seen more bears at the research center this early in the season.
Our time spent observing bears is embedded within my mind forever. To see these large yet gentle creatures, walk so quietly through the forest and climb a tree to seek some rest time and check us out sometimes from afar and sometimes from close up is an experience that everyone should seek.
I am even more closely linked to the Ely bears than I was before-is that possible? I am watching all the live cams from the North American Bear Center, reading Dr. Rogers blog and sharing my knowledge with my students.
One participant has called this course addictive- I would agree. I want to return again and again.
Kim - Illinois 2020
"I've been thinking (and worrying of course) about our bear friends, but I wanted to share some words with you all and with JM and others who contributed to our great experience with the bears this year. I, along with others, I'm sure, worried a lot about exposure to covid in these trying times. I want to say to you all that you were "over the top" in your attention to our well-being. It was clear that you all understood the steps that had to be taken to protect everyone (including yourselves!). I so appreciated it, and it made the days even more delightful because I never worried. I hope to see you all next year for my FIFTH year. Your care for us, and the bears, is deeply appreciated."
Neala - Minnesota 2020
“2020 was our fourth bear course, and it was unlike any we’d ever done before. Because of COVID-19, attendance was down so we did not get to meet as many people as we usually do. But that was more than compensated for by the huge volume of bears. And this year we got to see Shadow, the local matriarch, as well as her great-great-great-great-grand cubs, all in the same four days. It never ceases to amaze me how much is known about the bears around Ely, and how willing they are to share our company. There’s no experience like this anywhere else in the world.”
Matthew - Maryland 2020
"I have been an independent Black bear researcher for the last twenty years using the trust-based method that Lynn developed to study a few wild bears in an area that remains hostile to these animals.
Nothing prepared me for the experience of being totally immersed in bears in such a bear friendly environment.
The course exceeded my wildest expectations. To be surrounded by so many peace-loving wild bears was an experience I shall never forget.
I had so many questions answered by Lynn whose extensive knowledge of Black bears is only exceeded by his deep humility and his love for the bears themselves.
To say that this course changed my life is an understatement.
I am grateful to every human being that made this experience possible."
Sara - New Mexico 2019
"After following Dr. Rogers work for years, I attended a field study course for the first time, and I was not disappointed. The course is an amazing experience and a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in all things bear and to learn from one of the most knowledgeable bear biologists in the field. Lynn patiently answered each one of my questions and shared his vast knowledge of bear biology, behavior and ecosystems. The research he shared with us will help me teach how to improve coexistence between bears and people.
I would like to thank Mike and JM, Judy and everyone at the North American Bear Center for being so accommodating. It was truly a unique experience."
Sue - Colorado 2019
Wildlife Research Institute
145 West Conan Street
Ely, Minnesota 55731 USA