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What bearing do bears have on the environment?

Submitted by Marie Gilbert
Phone: 907-474-7412


How many raccoons does it take to equal one black bear?

In the only region in eastern North America where white-tailed deer, black bear, bobcat, coyote, and cougar are known to coexist, South Florida land stewards and wildlife managers face challenges not unlike their Alaska counterparts.

The Institute of Arctic Biology (IAB) Jay Hammond Lecture series presents David Maehr, associate professor of conservation biology at the University of Kentucky, for one lecture, Large Carnivores, Herbivores, and Omnivores in South Florida (How many raccoons does it take to equal one black bear?)

The IAB Jay Hammond Lecture, free and open to the public, will be Thursday, March 11, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Elvey Auditorium on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.

Maehr will discuss how bears fit into predator-prey relations in south Florida. Specifically, how such relations might differ in the absence of the recently wiped out red wolf, a potential deer predator of relatively open terrain; how a remnant population of panther might affect the spatial patterns of white-tailed deer and its closest living relative, the bobcat; how naturalized coyote a relative newcomer to this part of the world, might influence panther, bobcat and deer; and how black bear fit into this picture are they too much of an ecological bumbler with food habits too general to exert any kind of top-down influence on this subtropical landscape?

Maehr's current research focuses on elk and black bear restoration in Kentucky, black bear conservation in Florida, neotropical migrant warbler ecology and conservation in Kentucky, and vertebrate colonization, plant succession, and landscape structure in the restoration of Kentucky mined lands. Maehr is also co-author of Florida's Birds A Handbook and Reference.

In October, Maehr was a guest on National Public Radio's Science Friday program about wild cougars, and how recent cougar-human contacts in Boulder, Colorado might serve as a lesson about encounters with wild animals for other areas around the country.

Maehr will also be giving an in-house presentation to wildlife biology students about the Wildlife Society's program for certification of professional wildlife biologists.

For more information contact Marie Gilbert, Institute of Arctic Biology, 907-474-7412, marie.gilbert@uaf.edu or Professor R. Terry Bowyer, Institute of Arctic Biology, 907-474-5311, ffrtb@uaf.edu.