History of the Washington State University Bear Program
The Washington State University Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Program was established in 1986. Prior to that time, both federal and state biologists responsible for understanding and managing wild grizzly bears occasionally wanted to use captive bears in their studies. In their attempts to use bears in zoos, biologists found that few zoos had more than two individuals of a particular species with which to obtain sufficient data. Thus, when Washington State University (WSU) researchers indicated an interest in becoming involved in bear research and conservation, a program of studies utilizing both captive and wild bears was developed. The captive bears that were ultimately placed at WSU were not viewed as a replacement for healthy, wild populations nor were studies on captive bears viewed as a replacement for studies of wild bears. The captive bears were viewed as an important source of information or a means to develop new techniques that could then be applied to understanding the needs of wild bears. In fact, it is the synergism of studies using both captive and wild bears that has distinguished this Program.
A coalition of university, state, and federal scientists who have studied bears for the past 22 years at Washington State University are proposing to create a National Bear Center. The Center will have two primary missions: to provide a valued research facility and to educate students and the general public about bears, their needs, their role in nature, and how humans can interact with them safely.
Read the proposal »