The Bear Necessities

February 23, 2006

If you go online and Google Michael Pelton and bear – you will find him credited across the world as a researcher, project leader, co-author, advisor, and expert. The Sierra Club website offers an article listing Pelton as “perhaps the most respected black bear biologist in the world.” The Mary E. Humphreys Biology Lecture Series is proud to present Dr. Michael Pelton as its guest lecturer March 9 at Mary Baldwin University.

Among Pelton’s most important accomplishments is a 32-year study of the black bear – the longest continuous study of any bear species in the world. Pelton’s research projects have also included studies of brown bear in Spain, Norway, and Russia, and Asiatic black bears in Japan. He has studied giant pandas in China in a cooperative effort with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Memphis Zoo.

Professor emeritus of wildlife science at University of Tennessee, Pelton has also held faculty and adjunct faculty appointments in graduate programs for ecology and ethology at the Universities of Arkansas, Clemson, and Mississippi State. He has co-founded numbers of organizations dedicated to the conservation and rehabilitation of bears, such as the International Association for Bear Research and Management and the Black Bear Conservation Committee, among others.

While his main research focus has been bear, Pelton has done studies on raccoon, European wild hog, river otter, coyote, red wolf, cottontail rabbit, striped skunk, ground hog, and white-tailed deer. He frequently advises organizations such as National Geographic, National Wildlife Federation, and the U.S. Forest Service, among others. Pelton is on the board of directors of the Valley Conservation Council in the Shenandoah Valley, where he now resides on a mountain farm with wife, Dr. Tamra Willis, a faculty member at Mary Baldwin University.

The public is invited to hear Dr. Michael Pelton Thursday, March 9 at 7 p.m. in Francis Auditorium, located at the corner of Coalter and New streets in Staunton, on the campus of Mary Baldwin University. This event is free of charge.