Lake Clark National Park, Alaska
Dr. Miha Krofel, Dr. Lydia Kolter
My first experience with a wild bear was a face-to-face encounter in the Canadian wilderness when I was 12 years old. A Black bear became curious about an outhouse (with me in it), and our mutual discovery of the other scared each of us to flee in opposite directions. I remember thinking that the bear didn't behave at all like I'd been told...there was no threatening behavior and no attack.
Some years later I finished a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Anthropology, hoping to help bridge an ever-widening gap between people and nature. I decided to return to Alaska where I began work as a bear-viewing guide, and my life was again changed forever. Every day that I watched bears I became increasingly fascinated by their intelligence, power, and passion.
Over the next couple years I went back to school to pursue a Master's degree while continuing my guide work in the summer. I delved deep into the academic aspects of bear biology in the Master of Natural Resources and Wildlife Management program at Oregon State. During this time I worked with my adviser to write the Black Bear Conflict Technical Manual for the US Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Damage website.
Over the past few years I've continued my field experience with Brown bears in Alaska and participated in the International Bear Association. I have delivered several presentations about bear-related ecotourism and human-bear conflicts. I hope to use the coming research seasons to design and begin my PhD with Dr. Miha Krofel at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, during which time I will be studying the social, communication behavior of Brown bears at my research site in Lake Clark National Park. Field research of animal behavior is a lifetime pursuit, and I am excited to add to the body of knowledge surrounding the social life of these charismatic animals.