Wildlife Biology Class Studies Black Bear Physiology

Blaine Kopp PhD, Environmental Studies Chair
This fall, students in Wildlife Biology chose the American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) as the focal point of a unit on mammal physiology and ecology.

In the process, they wanted to articulate a bear skeleton to add to the growing number of wildlife specimens on display in the E. E. Just Environmental Center. Because New Hampshire’s black bear population is fewer than 6000 individuals, I was skeptical that we’d be able to obtain a specimen; however, New Hampshire state bear biologist Andrew Timmons came to the rescue and delivered a 130 pound sow that had been hit by a vehicle while foraging along a roadside with her cubs. The cubs are now in the care of a wildlife rehabilitation center in Lyme, NH. Bears have gross anatomy remarkably similar to humans, so dissecting one is a lot grittier than the typical high school frog dissection. Students have risen to the challenge, and with the soft tissue dissection complete, we have begun to examine the skeletal system and prepare bones for eventual articulation and display.
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Kimball Union Academy

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Founded in 1813, Kimball Union Academy is one of the oldest private boarding high schools in New Hampshire and the country. KUA blends the best of the New England boarding tradition with an innovative, modern educational program for a diverse group of day and boarding students from across the country and around the world. Located in Meriden, New Hampshire in the heart of the Upper Valley, Kimball Union is minutes from Dartmouth College and has direct access to Boston and New York.