Welcome! Be sure to visit the NABC website as well.

How do the WRI and the NABC differ? Sudden openings in the Bear Field Study Courses - UPDATE May 6, 2021  

Today I saw a message asking how the Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center differ. They are two separate but related nonprofit organizations—the NABC a mile west of Ely and the Wildlife Research Institute 15 miles west of Ely.

WRI Research CabinWRI Research CabinThe WRI is mainly about Research and the NABC about education. WRI research created the NABC to reach out to the public.

From the about us page on the website:

20210506 bear course 2WRI Visitor"Working with biologist Lynn Rogers, Ph.D., for over 40 years, the Wildlife Research Institute (WRI) is conducting the longest and most detailed black bear study and the largest educational outreach program ever done for black bears. Research focuses on improving coexistence between people and bears in an increasingly urbanized environment. WRI provides the information to over a hundred million people each year through TV, radio, books, magazines, museum exhibits, black bear courses, and the Internet. It created the content for the North American Bear Center's new Visitor Center, which opened near Ely, Minnesota, on May 5, 2007. WRI works with government agencies to improve bear management. WRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by course fees, lecture fees, memberships, donors, merchandise sales, and dedicated volunteers."

The WRI website is www.bearstudy.org and its Facebook page is ‘Lily the Black Bear’ at https://www.facebook.com/lily.the.black.bear. The Facebook page is also about education and has over 198,000 likes and 171,000 followers. The daily updates are posted on that page as well as Twitter, the website and is also sent out in e-mail form to subscribers. Anyone can subscribe for free by clicking on the subscribe button at the bottom of the website’s home page and entering your name and email. Moderators on the Facebook page answer many questions about bears.

NABC outsideNorth American Bear Center

NABC bearsNABC bearsThe NABC is a big building on Highway 1, also called Highway 169, a mile before Ely, and it has many displays that include over 60 videos and many pictures. It has a reputation for being full of information. It is also the common source of information for many wildlife agencies, authors, and the media. NABC exhibitsNABC exhibitsIt is listed on Trip Advisor as the number one attraction in Ely, Minnesota. There is so much more that we want to add to it, but what makes it popular is that it has the kind of information that people want to know. The theme for it developed as I gave lectures across America in the 1990’s and early 2000’s and heard the same questions at university after university. It answers those questions and more. It is also popular because people can learn directly from the four ambassador bears as they interact with each other and their forest and pond environment with guaranteed visibility in their 2½-acre enclosure. It’s website is www.bear.org and its Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/NorthAmericanBearCenter. Together, these sites include a lot of the information in the exhibits.

Of special interest for those wanting to learn directly from wild bears are the Black Bear Field Study Courses offered by the WRI on its website at www.bearstudy.org or at this time by emailing Judy Thon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Three vacancies opened up yesterday when participants on the other side of the world found they could not get airline tickets due to travel restrictions. Those vacancies are in the August 9-12, 2021 course. More information on the courses is on the website. Travel restrictions are also likely to open up spaces in three of the other courses (email Judy for more information).

Bear Course HikeBear Course Participants

Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center

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