STANDARDS

CCSS: 3.NBT.A.2, 4.NBT.A.2, MP2, MP3, MP7

TEKS: 3.4A, 4.2C

Into the Bear's Den

Meet a scientist who studies how bears and other large carnivores interact with humans

Peter Houlihan

Scientist Rae Wynn-Grant uses medicine to put bears to sleep so they can be studied.

Most bears live in the wild, and most humans do not. But what happens when their paths cross? Rae Wynn-Grant is a scientist who studies conflicts between humans and large carnivores. Carnivores are animals, such as bears, lions, and lemurs, that hunt and eat meat.

Much of Wynn-Grant’s work focuses on black bears. They live throughout North America, from Canada to Mexico. Some live in remote areas, while others live near towns and cities. “Their behavior changes depending on where they are,” Wynn-Grant says.

Most bears live in the wild. Most humans do not. But what happens when their paths cross?

Rae Wynn-Grant is a scientist. She studies conflicts between humans and large carnivores. Carnivores are animals that hunt and eat meat. Bears and lions are all carnivores.

Wynn-Grant mostly studies black bears. They live in North America, from Canada to Mexico. Some live in remote areas. Others live near towns and cities. “Their behavior changes depending on where they are,” Wynn-Grant says.

To study bears, Wynn-Grant puts GPS collars on adult females during the summer. Then she can track them and find them in the winter when bears hibernate and give birth to cubs.

Working with a team of scientists, Wynn-Grant visits bear dens when the cubs are about 8 weeks old. She gives the mother bear medicine so that it stays asleep.

To study bears, Wynn-Grant uses GPS collars. This helps her keep track of the bears in the wild. She puts the collars on adult females during the summer. Then she uses the GPS to find them in the winter. In winter, bears hibernate and give birth to cubs.

Wynn-Grant works with a team of scientists. They visit bear dens when the cubs are about 8 weeks old. Wynn-Grant gives the mother bear medicine so that it stays asleep.

Then she measures the bear’s height, weight, and fur thickness. She listens to its heartbeat. Wynn-Grant keeps the cubs warm by tucking them into her jacket while she works. This mimics the mother’s warmth.

The GPS collars track the bears’ movements. So far, scientists have noticed that female bears tend to hibernate near humans. Male bears usually do the opposite. Scientists are studying why.

Then she measures the bear’s height, weight, and fur thickness. She listens to its heartbeat. Wynn-Grant keeps the cubs warm while she works. She tucks them into her jacket. This mimics the mother’s warmth.

The GPS collars track the bears’ movements. So far, scientists have noticed that female bears tend to hibernate near humans. Male bears usually do the opposite. Scientists are studying to find out why. 

From TV to Teaching

Wynn-Grant grew up in San Francisco, California. She didn’t spend much time in nature. She watched TV shows about wild animals, which sparked her curiosity.

In college, Wynn-Grant studied environmental science. She was often the only black person in her classes. “That made me feel different,” she says. But her teachers and mentors encouraged her.

Now Wynn-Grant is a college professor, as well as a scientist.

“I absolutely love it,” she says. “Students can learn about the environment while being in nature,” she says.

Wynn-Grant grew up in San Francisco, California. She didn’t spend much time in nature. She watched TV shows about wild animals. This made her curious.

In college, Wynn-Grant studied environmental science. She was often the only black person in her classes. “That made me feel different,” she says. But her teachers and mentors encouraged her.

Now Wynn-Grant is a college professor as well as a scientist. “I absolutely love it,” she says. “Students can learn about the environment while being in nature,” she says.

Look at the black bear population in Florida compared with Michiganʼs. What does the 4 represent in each number?

Look at the black bear population in Florida compared with Michiganʼs. What does the 4 represent in each number?

What are the similarities and differences between the black bear populations in New Hampshire and Vermont?

What are the similarities and differences between the black bear populations in New Hampshire and Vermont?

Look at your chart. Does the state with the greatest number of place value disks have the highest bear population? Explain.

Look at your chart. Does the state with the greatest number of place value disks have the highest bear population? Explain.

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