I love talking about Black Bears! Bears are magnificent parts of the natural world we share. Populations of healthy bears are indicative of a healthy forest ecosystem. I would like to talk about the amazing adaptations and specializations that make up bear biology and behavior.
Black bear populations have been increasing in New York State since the early 1900s. This increase has provided opportunities for people to enjoy viewing bears and enjoy knowing that they are present. Unfortunately, their increasing presence occasionally conflicts with the human interests. We will discuss these conflicts and how they may be avoided or resolved responsibly. I would like to discuss conflict resolution now and in the future, including the role of the NYSDEC and the role of the individual.
Matthew Merchant, Sr. Wildlife Biologist
NYSDEC, Bureau of Wildlife
Matt has an A.A.S. degree in Fish and Wildlife Technology, SUNY Cobleskill, 1986, and a B.S. degree in Wildlife Management, UMaine, Orono, 1991
He has worked for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife as a Work-study student while in school in ME. This work was with the Furbearer Unit where he worked on the Bear Project, assisting a graduate student with a study on habitat use. One summer was spent live-trapping bears in northern Maine.
Previously, Matt worked as a Fish and Wildlife Technician for NYSDEC at the Region 4 sub-office in Stamford, NY for 10 years.Hired as a Wildlife Biologist in New Paltz in 2001 to head the Sportsman Education Program. In 2002, due to staff cuts, the duties of heading the bear program in Region 3 were added.
Duties include educating the public and otherwise assisting them in dealing with bear conflicts. Handling bears in instances such as; in urban situations, trapped in nuisance settings and as a part of continuing research. Approximately 12 – 30 bears are handled each year.