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Introduction to Appalachian Black Bears

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is one of eight bear species in the world. It is the smallest North American bear, and the most common bear species on the planet. Ursus americanus is also one of only two bear species not currently endangered and experiencing continued population decline. Nonetheless, it is a 'species of special concern' in North Carolina, so even though American black bears are not endangered generally, they remain in a precarious position.

To better understand the species, Dr. Michael R. Pelton of the University of Tennessee initiated in 1969 a long-term study of the population in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). One of the first objectives of the study was to estimate the size of the population and develop reliable population data. Though much was learned in the early years of the study, those findings raised many new questions. The research process that evolved, and that continues to this day, was similar to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Understanding the population dynamics of bears became the central theme, while research into related topics completed the picture. Today, the GRSMNP black bear project is one of the longest-running studies of wildlife still underway.


Learning About Black Bears on FTE 
( About The Project )
The "Appalachian Black Bears" field trip on Field Trip Earth offers many articles and other resources for those wishing to learn more about Ursus americanus. Detailed information about black bears is also found in several "site-wide" articles—see the full article for a list.
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Black Bear 2006 Update 
( About The Project )
Black bear researcher Jared Laufenberg describes the thirty-eigth year of work in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This was a successful year with plenty of interesting surprises.
[ Full Article | Related Articles ]

DNA Sampling Conclusions 
( About The Project )
Black bear researcher Katie Settlage provides a brief overview of her DNA study in Smoky Mountains National Park.
[ Full Article | Related Articles ]

Studying Coastal Black Bears 
( About The Project )
There are two distinct black bear populations in North Carolina. While Field Trip Earth currently focuses on animals in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, researchers from the University of Tennessee are taking a close look at bears in the northeastern part of the state.
[ Full Article | Related Articles ]