Bear fair in the Wilk

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The Bear Fair is a free outreach event for everyone ranging from children with a fascination with bears to students interested in outdoor recreation.

The Ballroom and Garden Court in the Wilkinson Student Center will be transformed into “Bear Country” on Thursday, Sept. 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. Andrew Derocher, a polar bear expert, will deliver a lecture in the Ballroom, from 8 to 9 p.m., titled β€œAn inconvenient species: Polar bears in a changing climate.”

This event is hosted by the 2013 International Conference on Bear Research and Management (IBA) that is being held this week at the Provo Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, according to a news release regarding the event.

Janene Auger, the assistant editor for the Western North American Naturalist and co-chair of the conference, describes how BYU became involved with IBA.

“Two years ago the BYU College of Life Sciences decided to support a bid submitted to the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA) to host the 22nd International Conference on Bear Research and Management here in Utah. The bid was spearheaded by Dr. Hal L. Black of the Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences, and I became involved as co-chair of the conference,” Auger said. “Dr. Black and I, along with many other students and colleagues, have spent the last 22 years researching the American black bears of Utah’s East Tavaputs Plateau β€” so we have a great deal of collective experience.”

Auger also said the bear den that the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum will provide as one of the activities for the Bear Fair had already been underway for the new construction at the museum, to be re-opened in Spring 2014.

“One fortuitous aspect of the Bean Museum’s participation in Bear Fair was that the den was planned and built independently of the bear conference,” Auger said. “The education and exhibits people were thinking about how to feature animal homes in a fun space for toddlers, and they came up with the idea for a bear den. The timing of the den’s completion just happened to be right for us to borrow it for Bear Fair. We are very grateful.”

Emilee Barrett, the assistant program administrator at BYU Conferences & Workshops, said nothing like this has been done before at the university.

“We are making an entire night dedicated to all things bear. The event will have a bear den, grizzly bear traps you can try out, bear games, life-size bear silhouettes, mounted bears from the Bean Museum, bear claws and cinnamon bears for purchase, face painting, coloring, bear tranquilizing testing, lecture by Polar Bear expert Andrew Derocher and much, more,” Barrett said. “If this has been done, then we haven’t been a part of it.”

According to Barrett, it is a tradition for IBA to hold a free public lecture about bears for the local community, but this year they wanted to extend their reach to families and students, along with bear aficionados.

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