Skip to main content

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

Comments from Recent Participants

"It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The course was a great balance of activities. Not only did we get to see bears at the WRI— first bear Big Harry who despite his size was so gentle—we also saw them in their territories. We explored the den where Lily gave birth to Hope. We observed mother and cub interactions (RC and her cubs and Juliet, Sophie, Sybil and Sam) and saw Lily and June. The lectures and the outings where we learned to track bears were fascinating and you didn’t need to be a biologist to understand everything! I really got to appreciate what a fantastic job Lynn, Sue and the volunteers do. I can’t wait to do it again."
Mel C. – UK 2012

"We were lucky enough to be part of a study course in 2012, we waited a great number of years to fulfill my dream of seeing these amazing creatures ‘ up close ‘ and as nature intended. The course was extremely informative, well run but in a relaxed and very friendly way. Any bear enthusiast travelling either singly or not, from any country would fit in well with the bear study course. It truly was a magical experience and one that as many people as possible should experience so we realize how misunderstood these animal are and how we need to change in our treatment of them."
David T. and Sally L. – UK

"I was in the bear study just before the 4th of July of 2013. I looked forward to it in the biggest way. I was not disappointed. I learned tons about bears. To be able to see the bears in their own back yard was phenomenal. I work in a school and believe me I brought back tons of information. The kids loved the den cams. Most knew all about it and miss it. They learned so much from the den cams. It was the factor that got them interested. I cannot describe how excited I was to walk by a live bear. It is a highlight of my life. It broke down stereotypes of bears and unfounded fears in which we all can learn from. I loved the solitude of the woods. I loved the devotion of both Sue and Lynn. We were kept busy all the time and it was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget."
Bill C. – North Dakota 2013

"The Black Bear Study Course was life enhancing and life changing for me. I will never forget my first sight of a black bear. It was Lily, pretty fabulous for a first bear, and she came padding toward us, calmly, gently and just looking for the pecans that Lynn had for her. Followed by beautiful and equally calm June, the slightly more skittish Jewel and totally elusive Juliet over the two full days of the course we saw how individual these bears are and totally cemented in my mind what I already knew: that it is beholden on all of us to understand and protect them.

"We were incredibly well looked after throughout the course, I always felt at ease around the bears with Lynn in charge. You learn so much just sitting chatting with Lynn and Sue at mealtimes. The Research Centre is in a fabulous location looking down on the lake, the cabin is cozy and we had wonderful food cooked for us. It was just the best experience and I can't recommend it highly enough."
Ruth B. – UK 2013

"I had been learning all I could about black bears for the last 3-½ years. The den cam of Lily and Hope was my hook into the world of black bears. I sat dedicatedly every day watching the happenings in and outside of the den, filling my mind with black bear facts. Since I have a love of animals and the forests, I thought the ultimate experience would be to be in the woods with the bears. However, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be attending a Black Bear Field Study Course. But there I was in the midst of it all.

"My excitement bubbled over being with Lynn, Sue and my fellow course participants. But then to be in the beauty of the Minnesota forests to meet for the first time the incredible awe-inspiring black bears I had watched on video and seen in pictures was beyond words. It was like a love bursting from my heart. To suddenly see the bears walk out from the brush was truly a magical moment. Then to observe these gentle creatures in their own environment was the ultimate learning experience, an experience that I will hold in my heart and mind forever. As an educator, I can take what I have learned and bring this knowledge back to my students. I can do this with great emotion because my heart and soul are with the bears.

"The main focus was of course the bears, but I must mention the environment we were in at the research center. Lynn and Sue along with Sharon and Mike created a family atmosphere for all of us. Here we were together from all parts of the country and world sitting around the kitchen table or on the deck discussing what we all had in common—the bears. We really felt like we were a family those four days together. Those four days out of my life made a great impact. Lynn and Sue, I want to thank you for the experiences, the adventures, the smiles and laughter, the chance to get to know some amazing people who became new friends and most importantly the increased knowledge I gained through discussions and observation of the black bears."
Georgia T. – Minnesota 2013

"You can read about it, watch videos, visit the NABC, stay up all night on a web cam, but until you are in the field with Lynn and Sue, you cannot begin to appreciate the trust that these wild bears have for them. It is small wonder that they are able to produce such startling new research when you walk with them and the bears, learn about the field-craft, be up close and personal during a battery change, see a mother and her cubs fearlessly approach, and in some ways, best of all, sit around the dinner table in excellent company talking bears."
Bitsy and Bill S. – Wisconsin 2012

"Attending the Bear Study course at the Wildlife Research Institute in Ely, MN was an opportunity for which I will forever be grateful. Although I have always been deeply connected to nature and have had respect for all animals, this program was life altering for me. I learned so much about the behavior of Black Bears that I have a new profound view of the wholeness of nature—and the important role I play in educating people such that they don’t do the kinds of things that might invite nuisance behavior by local bears, or worse yet, invite some misinterpreted bluff such that a mom bear would have to be euthanized in the name of community safety. Fear of animals or the outdoors has never served anyone, and factual education far outweighs any fear-based education. I wish every park ranger, wildlife officer, environmental educator and police office could attend this phenomenal program. And last of all, I was introduced to Minnesota - and now can’t wait to get back! Thank you Dr. Lynn Rogers, Sue Mansfield and all those who made this possible."
Beth M. – Pennsylvania 2013

"I enjoyed the opportunity to view black bears and learn more about how to peacefully co-exist with them. It was very exciting to see and learn about bear dens, bear trails, and bear habitat, as well as the bears themselves. I loved having the opportunity to ask questions about bears and have them answered by knowledgeable researchers who work with the bears every day. I was surprised at how much misinformation is out there about bears and happy I am now on the right track to better understanding these majestic animals, especially if I should see one while hiking or have one show up in my yard."
Mary C. – Maryland 2013

"My experience at the Black Bear Field Courses were both excellent. The courses were very educational and I learned a lot, not only about bears, but about nature in general; including other animals, animal habitat, plants, and trees.

"I was most impressed with the professionalism and knowledge of both Dr. Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield. Not only are they sharing their knowledge of black bears with others; they genuinely care about the bears and the other animals that inhabit Northern Minnesota.

"I have traveled extensively, but I consider my experiences at the Wildlife Research Institute (WRI) and the Black Bear Field Courses trips of a lifetime. I look forward to returning to the WRI and attending another Black Bear Field Course!!"
Flo L. – Michigan 2012 and 2013

"I am an avid amateur wildlife photographer with a special preference for photographing bears of all kinds. This love of bears has taken me to Alaska, British Columbia (in pursuit of the White Spirit Bear), Glacier NP and my very favorite, Yellowstone NP—which I visit on a frequent basis. Over the years, I have watched and observed bears, read almost everything ever written about them, and watched every documentary that was on television. I felt I had a decent knowledge of black bears. Then, in May 2013, I attended my first Black Bear Field Study course and it was one of the highlights of my 67 years of life. I have been a volunteer den watcher and recorder for WRI for three years, watching and recording the sounds and movements made by the mom’s and cubs in their dens. After staring at a computer screen for many hours during those three years, I wanted to see and hear the bears in real life. I wanted to see in person how Doc and Sue spend their days in the woods with these bears and learn firsthand what their research consisted of. I wanted to see the dens and the setup of the den cams that I spent so many hours looking through. Well, I got to do all that and much more—including crawling into two empty dens!

"At every meal, we got to sit with Doc and Sue and ask questions, discuss what the day’s activity would be, hear stories about the research bears and learn all about what brought Doc and Sue to where they are today. We sat like spellbound children at story time, listening to Doc tell us amazing things he has learned about black bears during his 45 plus years of bear research. Then off we would go into the snowy woods to locate a bear via telemetry signal.

"The researcher’s mission varied from trip to trip. They have the never ending task of changing GPS units or batteries on the research collars, swapping collars, or just to check on cubs to see if they were doing well. I can’t describe the lump I felt in my throat when we would get close to a bear’s signal and Doc would softly say, “It’s me bear” and then see a dark spot appear in the distance in the dense woods, which moved toward us very slowly and hesitantly. Doc would whisper again, “It’s me bear” and the dark spot moved in closer and then into view. I was emotionally touched to see the trust that these bears have for Doc and Sue.

"Going into the course, I had been around black bears enough to not fear them, but there were some participants that did have some apprehension beforehand. That apprehension melted away our first trip into the woods. The course was so much fun and since everyone in the group had the same thing in common, there was a kind of kinship and an immediate bonding of the participants. The end of the course came way to soon and it was emotionally tough to leave Doc, Sue, Sharon (who makes the best meals ever), the bears, Woods Lake, the Bear Center and Ely. I feel like I left a piece of my heart there but came away with so much more than I went with. I have shared my experience and new information that I obtained from the course with my neighbors here in New Jersey. I hope the information I shared with them will help them to not fear black bears and realize that they can co-exist with the growing population of bears in our state. I highly recommend this course for those who are fascinated with bears as well as those who may be fearful of them."
Sandy R – New Jersey 2013