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How You Can Help Researches with Black Bear Data

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The bear population is booming in Upstate New York. Researches have brought their studies to the Southern Tier and say there is even a way residents can help contribute to the data. 

People can participate in a citizen science project they designed called iSeeMammals, where anyone can submit information they find.

Catherine Sun, a graduate student in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University said, that there is about one bear for every three miles across the Southern Tier.

"Black bears are encountering human populations more now than they ever have before. We have set up close to 200 sites collecting 2,000 hair samples from over 257 bears," said Sun.

Their research shows bear populations growing and as they do they are expanding in distribution and range across landscape. Sun said the iSeeMammals app and website works in unison with the field data she is collecting. 

"Citizens help us by submitting information and data that is really helpful, you can record an observation from your hike by downloading the iSeeMammals app."

The app is free, and you just need to set up a user name to start uploading your bear findings. You can submit photos of bears or bears signs which can be anything from tracks, scat, or hair, and even tree markings. While hiking you can even set up a trail camera with the app. 

"That provides us with the presence information of when and where they see bears and bears signs as well as the absence information which is just as important for us to estimate the probability of bears being in an area," said Sun. 

However Sun reminds people to think about how they share an environment with bears as summer approaches and they are spending more time outdoors 
barbecuing. She says to be vigilante about cleaning up and not leaving food out including grills, and bringing what you can inside. Bears are typically shy but if things aren't disposed of correctly, they will get into it.

Camp Sertoma Caretaker and Cook Cyndi Robertson said bears do not often worry her, and where she lives she expects it. 

"We'll they love my dumpster and they leave me a big mess but they really other than that haven't been a nuisance," said Robertson

Sun said people can expect more interactions with bears throughout the summer as they are searching for food and if you happen to have a bear encounter, keep some distance.  

You can find more information about the iSeeMammals project on their website and download their free mobile app on your phone to get involved.