Students at Unity College are working with the Department of Inland, Fisheries, and Wildlife to learn more about Maine bears. And they're asking for folks who live in a specific part of the state to report any sightings they may have. It sounds like an interesting project, that will include attaching a bear cam to one of the animals!

I spoke today with Associate Professor George Matula about the research project. He says they're asking for sightings of bears in the Dixmont, Troy, Benton, Thorndike, Unity, and adjoining areas. The person answering the phone will ask a few questions and get an idea of where you spotted the bear, and will ask for some contact information in case they want to call later and ask for more details.

The students will be going out with the DIF&W to capture a few of the bears for analysis. They'll collect DNA samples, and in a few cases attach monitoring bracelets. And one bear will get an added bonus: a camera! The data collected by the monitors and camera will help the students learn more about the bears' habits, and how they're affecting this portion of Maine where the animals have just recently increased in number. Professor Matula says it's a great opportunity for the students to be a part of an actual, hands-on research study with one of Maine's most treasured animals.

For more information on the project, log onto the Unity College website. And if you see a bear in the testing area, drop them an email at bearstudy@unity.edu or call 948-9269.