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Citizen science and bears
chapterposted on 2020-02-18, 00:00 authored by S Elmeligi, Owen NevinOwen Nevin, I Convery
Bears and other large carnivores excite pubic interest and as such might seem like natural candidates for citizen science projects. In reality, however, these charismatic carnivores often live in remote, rugged, difficult terrain; they are often widely dispersed, living at low densities and are cryptic in their habits. Even though public interest in this species is high, the logistics of citizen science projects sometimes render programmes ineffective or too challenging to manage. With thoughtful planning, however, citizen science projects focusing on grizzly bear research can be a positive experience for participants and increase the scope of research databases. As a recent example of this, a 2018 project developed by the Cornell University-based New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is using data collected by citizen scientists to better understand New York's black bear population size and distribution, and how that distribution relates to forest, agricultural, and urban/suburban landscapes and communities (https://iseemammals.org/). In this chapter, we report on an earlier 'bear citizen science' project - Grizzly Research in the Rockies (Elmeligi 2016) - and another more established citizen science programme hosted by Alberta Parks, but first we consider the growth of citizen science.