Wesley Smith

Ecology of Nuisance, Suburban Black Bears in Southern New Hampshire


With a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), wildlife management major Wes Smith set out to capture, radio-collar, and track a number of black bears in and around Durham. His goal was to determine the bears’ home ranges, movement corridors, food sources, and security cover. “We could then use this data and data obtained from an online survey completed by residents who had bear encounters to determine the behavior of these suburban bears, such as movement patterns, home ranges, and use of anthropogenic food sources,” says Wes. Through the course of his research, Smith successfully attracted numerous bears to the bait sites and was able to place a radio collar on one bear. There were three main clusters of bear sightings: along Route 4, Durham Point, and the area around Foss Farm. From his data, Wes concluded “that at least five bears probably inhabit or move through Durham.”

“I most enjoyed the responsibility that came with this project,” he said. “I had to make decisions in the field and in conjunction with my adviser (Dr. Peter Pekins). I was also in charge of organizing other researchers assisting on the project. It was a good introduction to hopefully heading my own research project in graduate or career work.”