Venator Foundation gift to Unity College bear study produces exceptional results

May 15, 2014

A ground-breaking Maine black bear study involving Unity College students continues to spark the imagination of the general public and garner support.

One year ago the comprehensive study, which directly involves undergraduates capturing and tagging bears, received support when a pilot donated his services to help track tagged bears. The study is funded primarily by the college, which accepts donations to supplement that support. The study is now attracting foundation support.

During the spring 2014 semester, the Venator Foundation gifted the Unity College bear study with trail surveillance cameras and protective cases. Now, the cameras are producing outstanding shots of bears in the Unity, Maine area.

“The cameras and protective cases are ideal for bear surveillance,” noted Associate Professor George Matula, who is in charge of the study. “The cameras provide insight into bear behavior, and the cases protect against curious bears and human theft.”

The cameras are used to monitor pre-bait sites, hair snare sites, and trapping sites at locations in the study area near Unity College in Unity.

Since it began in 2013, the study has gathered valuable information about the Maine black bear population in central Maine. The recently released one-year study available on the college website offers a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of bears, and raised the important question of why bears in central Maine appear to be growing at a faster rate than bears in other parts of Maine. The study is believed to be the only one of its kind in the United States led by undergraduate students who track, trap and study bears.

The general public is encouraged to call any bear sightings in to the Unity study at 207-509-7269, or e-mail “The information received will help us focus our research efforts,” said Matula.


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