Bear Specialist Group

Who Are We?

The Bear Specialist Group (BSG) is part of The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Species Survival Commission.  The goal of the BSG is to promote the conservation of bears and the habitats that they require across their distribution world-wide.  With eight species of bears spreading across four continents, the BSG is organized into species (in some cases, species by region) and topical expert teams, each with one or two co-chair(s).  These co-chairs, along with some other specialists comprise the coordinating committee, which is listed below.

BSG Co-chairs

Dave Garshelis
Minnesota Dept. Natural Resources
1201 E. Hwy. 2
Grand Rapids, MN  55744 USA
Phone: 218-328-8874

Dave is a Research Scientist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).  Since 1983, as bear project leader for the MDNR, he has conducted population and ecological studies of American black bears across their geographic range in Minnesota, with direct application in management of the state’s bear population. As an adjunct associate professor at the University of Minnesota, he has advised graduate students on studies of most of the other bear species of the world, aimed at improved conservation.  Previously he studied black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains for his M.S. degree (University of Tennessee) and sea otters in Alaska for his PhD (University of Minnesota). His current interests are in monitoring trends of bear populations, discerning factors limiting population growth, and understanding ecological adaptations of bears, especially in human-modified environments or at the edge of their geographic range. 

Rob Steinmetz
Bangkok, Thailand

Rob is head of the Conservation Biology Unit at World Wildlife Fund Thailand. He has conducted ecological research, training, and site-based conservation projects in Southeast Asia for 19 years. He studied the ecology of sympatric Asiatic black bears and sun bears for his Ph.D., and was heavily involved in the recent rangewide mapping and red-listing of these two species.  Rob has designed and implemented monitoring surveys for a number of species in Southeast Asia.  He has also investigated methods of assessing the extent and impacts of forest loss and poaching, the key factors affecting bear populations worldwide.

Red List Authority Focal Point

Bruce McLellan

British Columbia Ministry of Forests
Darcy, BC, Canada
Phone: 1-604-452-3233 

Bruce is Wildlife Research Ecologist for the British Columbia Ministry of Forests.  For over 30 years, his work has focused on integrating the ecological requirements of grizzly bears and endangered mountain caribou with human developments.  In doing so, he has conducted ecological studies of grizzly bears in several parts of the province and mountain caribou across most of their distribution.  Bruce’s work has led him directly into the middle of the complex interface between people using the land and the conservation of two challenging species.  Due to his knowledge of bears and caribou (plus the plants and animals that affect them), he has been involved with several, multi-stakeholder landuse planning processes that covered large portions of the Province. Bruce was previously president of the International Association for Bear Research and Management and through this role became linked to many bear conservation issues world-wide.  His interests remain the same – how to maintain challenging species in spite of expanding human demands on the land.

European Brown Bear Expert Team Co-chairs

Djuro Huber
University of Zagreb
Zagreb, Croatia
Phone: 385-1-2390141 

Djuro graduated in veterinary medicine in Zagreb, Croatia in 1975, then specialized in ecology (master’s degree) and wildlife parasitology (PhD, 1979). In 1979-80 he was on a Fulbright grant at the Wild Animal Disease Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. Since 1981 he has been conducting a brown bear study in Croatia, which in 1996 expanded into a study of all large carnivores in Croatia (bear, wolf and lynx). Other projects he has led included: National Geographic Society, International Bear Association, Euronatur, Bernd Thies Foundation, U.S. - Croatian science technology program, ALIS, Alertis, LIFE Wolf, LIFE COEX, GEF KEC, INTEREG DinaRis. Methods employed in these projects included radio-telemetry and genetics. Professionally, Djuro is involved with: Croatian Ecological Society, Croatian Biological Society, IUCN SSC Bear Specialist Group and Wolf Specialist Group, IBA (past Council member and Vice-president), Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, Wildlife Disease Association. He is currently professor of Biology in the Department of Biology at the Veterinary Faculty in Zagreb, where he teaches Zoology and Ecology.

Jon Swenson
Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Ås, Norway
Phone: (47) 64 96 57 30

Jon is originally from Montana, USA, where he received his university education and worked as a wildlife management biologist for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for 10 years. In this job, he worked on management issues concerning both American black and grizzly bears. He has been the leader of the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project since 1991.  In addition, he has contributed expertise to managers, researchers and governments on bear management and research in Austria, Bulgaria, France, Republic of Georgia, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, and Sri Lanka, and his students have worked on bear projects in Bolivia and Indonesia.  The BSG has been important for the successful management and conservation of North American bear populations.  He is strongly committed to science-based conservation and management of bears worldwide and has served organizations such as the International Association for Bear Research and Management as an active Council member and Vice-President for Eurasia.

North Asian Brown Bear Expert Team Co-Chairs

Larry van Daele
Alaska Department of Fish & Game - Wildlife Conservation
211 Mission Road
Kodiak, AK  99615-6399  USA
Phone: 907-486-1880

Larry is the area wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Kodiak.  He has been working for the Department since 1981, with his primary duties centered on brown bear research and management in southern and western Alaska.  He has a Doctorate in Natural Resource Management from the University of Idaho, and is the project leader of the Northern Forum Brown Bear Workgroup, an international coalition of bear biologists from Alaska, Sweden, Canada, Japan and the Russian Far East.  Larry was the bear safety coordinator during the Exxon ValdezEskimo Walrus CommissionWashington State University.

Tsutomu Mano
Nature Conservation Department
Hokkaido Institute of Environmental Sciences
Kita-19 Nishi-12 Kita-ku
Sapporo, Japan  060-0819
Phone: 81-11-747-3570
Fax: 81-11-747-3254

Tsutomu Mano is a senior research biologist at the Hokkaido Institute of Environmental Sciences, Leader of the Brown Bear Research Project of the Hokkaido Government, and a council member of the Mammalogical Society of Japan.  He completed his Ph.D., examining brown bear harvest data, at Hokkaido University in 1992.  His research has been concerned with brown bear population monitoring issues in Hokkaido through biological investigation of killed individuals, hunting statistics, and a density index.  His current interests include traditional knowledge of coexistence with bears, and its application into actual bear management programs in Japan.  He is also actively involved in collecting information on brown bears in the north Pacific Rim through the Brown Bear Working Group of the Northern Forum.

South Asian Brown Bear Expert Team Co-Chairs

Achyut Aryal
Institute of Natural Sciences
Massey University
Albany Auckland, New Zealand
Phone: +642108176976

Achyut is a conservation ecologist affiliated with Fauna and Flora Conservation Nepal and Massey University, New Zealand.  He has over 10 years of experience focused on Himalayan mammals, including the brown bear. Brown bear ecological research was a part of his PhD work. He has led preparation of the draft National Brown Bear Action Plan for Nepal. He has also conducted and published studies on snow leopard, common leopard, blue sheep, marmot, and musk deer in the Himalaya. Besides the Bear Specialist Group, he serves on the Deer Specialist Group and and Lagomorph Specialist Group. He hopes to extend his research and expertise to understand interactions of humans, prey, and predators as well as climate change in the Himalaya.

Muhammad Ali Nawaz
Department of Animal Sciences
Quaid-i-Azam University
Islamabad, Pakistan
Phone:   +92 51 90643155
Mobile:  +92 332 5444230

Ali, an assistant professor at Quaid-i-Azam University in Pakistan, has a PhD in ecology and natural resource management, and post-doctorate in molecular ecology.  He has 15 years of field research experience, spanning diverse geographical regions in Pakistan.  His doctoral research focused on conservation issues pertaining to a small brown bear population in the high Himalaya.  Recently he has been focusing on understanding ecology, co-existence, and conservation issues of the carnivore community in northern Pakistan. Ali has also contributed to community-based conservation programs, education and outreach.  He established and directs the Snow Leopard Foundation to institutionalize carnivore conservation in Pakistan, and currently manages several conservation programs in northern Pakistan. Ali also has rich experience in the environmental sector. He contributed to more than forty environmental assessments, directed various environmental monitoring projects, played a leading role in developing management plans for three national parks, and led environmental baseline studies in various protected areas.

Asiatic Black Bear Expert Team Co-chairs

Dave Garshelis
Minnesota Dept. Natural Resources
1201 E. Hwy. 2
Grand Rapids, MN  55744  USA
Phone: 218-327-4146
Fax: 218-999-7944

Dave is a Wildlife Research Scientist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Adjunct Associate Professor and the University of Minnesota.  He is currently involved in a long-term (nearly 30-year) study of American black bears in Minnesota.  He has also advised graduate students on studies of Asiatic black bears in China, Taiwan, and Thailand.  These projects have focused on understanding the ecological needs of bears and how these interface with people; monitoring populations from sign surveys and interviews with local people; and examining factors limiting bear populations, including poaching, habitat loss, habitat degradation, and natural ecological barriers.  To view Dave's website, click here>>>.

Scientist-G / Senior Professor,
Department of Endangered Species Management,
Wildlife Institute of India, P.O. Box, 18, Chandrabani, Dehradun 248 001, Uttarakhand, India
Tel.:   +91-135-2640111 to 2640115 Extn.: 230 (O), 326 (R)
Fax:   +91-(0)135-2640117; Mob.: +91 9412901529

S.Sathyakumar has Masters and D.Phil degrees in Wildlife Sciences and is at present a Senior Scientist / Professor & Head, Department of Endangered Species Management at the Wildlife Institute of India [WII], he is leading a research project on the ecology of Asiatic Black Bear at Dachigam National Park, Kashmir and a project on large carnivores in Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, Sikkim. His research interests are the ecology and conservation of wildlife in the mountains; developing field techniques for the study and monitoring of rare and endangered species.  As a faculty at WII, he is involved in teaching high altitude ecology, habitat ecology, population ecology and quantitative ecology.  He has guided students for Masters and D.Phil degrees that include work on bears, mountain ungulates, and galliformes in India and Nepal.

Sun Bear Expert Team Co-chairs

Gabriella Fredriksson
Inst. Biodiversity Ecosystem Dynamics
University of Amsterdam
PO Box 270
Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur
Indonesia  76110
Phone: 62-813-46400844

Gabriella is a conservation biologist who has mainly been working in Indonesia for the last 15 years. Her doctoral research focused on the ecology and conservation of sun bears in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). Since 1997 Gabriella has been involved with the management and establishment of protected areas in East Kalimantan, North Sumatra, and Aceh. Recently she has assisted with the development of an environmental education centre in East Kalimantan, with a focus on sun bear conservation. Besides forest conservation and sun bears, she is interested in wildlife survey and monitoring techniques, wildlife trade, human-wildlife conflict, biodiversity assessments and monitoring, training/capacity building of local conservation NGOs and students.

Lorraine Scotson
Free the Bears/University of Minnesota
Ban Pan Luang, Luang Prahbang
Phone: +85-62056585520

Lorraine is a Scottish field biologist based in Lao PDR in Southeast Asia. Since 2007 she has researched aspects of distribution, ecology and population status of sun bears and Asiatic black bears in Cambodia, Vietnam and Lao PDR. Lorraine obtained her BSc in Animal Care at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, in 2005 and in 2011 joined the Conservation Biology PhD Program at the University of Minnesota, USA. In 2010 she began an ambitious project mapping the range of bears across the entire Lao PDR, resulting in the first detailed information on the status of bears in this country. Her research focus continues to grow, including aspects of human-bear conflict and illegal hunting and trade. Through her work, Lorraine strives to promote in-country capacity for research and conservation, collaborating with the National University of Lao PDR to facilitate Lao students in bear-related research. Lorraine believes that in the case of threatened species, research should be functional and pave the way to active conservation.

Sloth Bear Expert Team Co-chairs

Harendra Singh Bargali
Deputy Director - The Corbett Foundation
Village & Post Office- Dhikuli
District- Nainital, Uttarakhand, India
Phone: +91 5947 284156, 251880
Mobile: +91 9411540340, +91 9997836637

Harendra works as Deputy Director of The Corbett Foundation. He has been associated with the conservation of sloth bears since 1998, being one of the first individuals to conduct an intensive study of this species in India. He completed a Doctorate at Saurashtra University, Gujarat, India, studying sloth bear ecology and human-bear conflicts. His past work has been associated with the Wildlife Institute of India as Research Fellow and Research Associate in the Wildlife Policy Research Cell.  He also worked with World Wildlife Fund-India for several years.  Harendra currently serves on the State Board of Wildlife, Uttarakhand State. While working with different organizations with diverse responsibilities, he has remained actively involved in sloth bear conservation. Besides continuing to do research, he is also conducts training programs aimed at capacity building, and works to involve communities in conservation.

Nishith Dharaiya
Department of Life Sciences
HNG University
Patan, Gujarat, India
Phone: +91 999 898 1560

Nishith is an assistant professor of Environmental Science at Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University

Giant Panda Expert Team Chair

Ron Swaisgood
Brown Chair/Director of Applied Animal Ecology
Co-Head, Giant Panda Conservation Unit
San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research
15600 San Pasqual Valley Road
Escondido, CA 92027-7000  USA

Ron serves the San Diego Zoo (AZA) Giant Panda Species Survival Plan. Throughout his career, he has focused on behavioral and ecological research, theoretically driven, to tackle conservation problems, especially those related to captive breeding, reintroduction, and translocation. His fieldwork addresses conservation-relevant research questions, such as habitat needs and how animals disperse and settle into new habitats. Ron graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985 and obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis in 1994. He holds adjunct professor appointments at the University of California at Los Angeles, San Diego State University, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Dajun Wang
School of Life Sciences,
Peking University
Beijing, China
Phone: +86-137-1246587

Andean Bear Expert Team

Shaenandoah Garcia-Rangel
Department of Environmental Studies
Baruta - Caracas, Venezuela
Phone: +58 212 9063044

FAX: +58 212 906 3037

Shaenandhoa is a lecturer on landscape ecology and conservation biology at Department of Environment Studies, , Venezuela. For her PhD, she carried out a research project focused on the impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation on Andean bears with the Wildlife Research Group, University of Cambridge.

Ximena Velez-Liendo
Centro de Biodiversidad y Genetica
Facultad de Ciencias y Tecnologia
Universidad Mayor de San Simon
Calle Sucre y Parque La Torre s/n
PO Box 538
Cochabamba, Bolivia
Phone: +591 4 4540796

Since completion of her B.S. in Biology in 1999, Ximena has been actively involved in the study of the ecology and conservation of Andean bears in Bolivia.   She obtained her M.S. in Geographic Information Systems at the University of Leicester, UK, and later joined the Evolutionary and Ecology group at the University of Antwerp, Belgium as a Ph.D. student.  Her research focuses on modeling the effects of human expansion on Andean bear habitat in Bolivia.

Trade in Bear Parts Expert Team Chair

Chris Shepherd
Unit 3-2, 1st Floor
Jalan SS23/11, Taman SEA
47400 Petaling Jaya
Selangor Malaysia
Phone: +6 012 234 0790 
Fax: +60 7882 0171

Originally from Canada, Chris has been working in Southeast Asia on wildlife trade related issues for the past 18 years.  He has been with TRAFFIC Southeast Asia for the past 12 years.  As Senior Programme Officer for TRAFFIC, Chris carries out research on a wide variety of taxa, including mammals, birds and reptiles, looking at legal and illegal trade dynamics and assessing the impact of trade on wild populations. He also carries out enforcement assistance work in the region, conducting investigations and working closely with enforcement agencies around the world.  Chris carries out capacity building training courses for enforcement staff throughout Southeast Asia, and has, with his team, trained more than 1,000 officers over the past few years. Bears are one of the species Chris feels most strongly about.  The trade in bear parts in Asia appears to be increasing, yet little is being done to investigate this trade or to assist the authorities in stopping it.  Developing projects to tackle this illegal trade is one of his most urgent goals.

Captive Bears Expert Team Co-chairs

Lydia Kolter
Zoologischer Garten Koeln
Riehler Str. 173
Koeln Germany D-50735  
Phone: 49 221 77 85 107 
Fax: 49 221 77 85 111

Lydia is curator for ursids and felids at Cologne zoo and supervises projects on applied ethology and behavioural ecology. The research projects focus on the effects of environmental and social factors on resource use and activity patterns of captive herbivores and carnivores. The projects aim to assess the quality of the keeping conditions, to reveal problems which might indicate an overcharge of the adaptation potential, and test solutions to overcome these problems. Results on bears were implemented into the husbandry guidelines for ursids which were published during her tenure as co-chair of the Bear Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) of the European Zoo and Aquarium Association. The standards set by the guidelines served as a basis for regional collection planning for ursids and assessment of carrying capacity. Within the frame of the European Bear TAG she is also involved in ex situ conservation programmes for ursids by co-ordinating the European Endangered Species Breeding Program (EEP) of the spectacled bear and keeps the studbook for sun bears in Europe. Lydia finished her diploma in 1977 and obtained her doctoral degree in 1984 from the Albertus-Magnus University in Cologne, where she gives lectures and courses on zoo biology and applied ethology.

Matt Hunt
Free the Bears
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Human-Bear Conflicts Expert Team Chair

John Beecham 
2723 N. Lakeharbor Ln 
Boise, Idaho 83703  USA
Phone: 208-853-1901 
Fax: 208-853-1901

John worked for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for over 29 years. During his years in the field as a research biologist, John designed and conducted research on black bear ecology in six geographic areas of Idaho. He co-authored, with Jeff Rohlman, a book entitled A Shadow in the Forest - Idaho's Black Bear. John retired in 1999, but continues to work as a consultant on efforts to release orphan bears back to the wild. He recently co-chaired an international workshop in Russia on rehabilitation and release methods for orphan bear cubs, and another in Turkey on human-bear conflicts. John is currently participating in field work on human-brown bear conflicts in Turkey, as well as raising and releasing orphaned bear cubs in Idaho, British Columbia and Romania.  John received his B.S. from Texas Tech University, M.S. from the University of Idaho, and Ph.D. from the University of Montana. He is a past president and council member of the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA).

Lana M. Ciarniello
Aklak Wildlife Consulting
Campbell River

British Columbia, Canada
Phone/FAX: 250-923-8881

Lana has conducted research on black and grizzly bears in a number of provinces/territories throughout Canada since 1993.  Her doctoral research examined the effects of timber harvesting on the demography and habitat selection of grizzly bears.  Her research interests focus on the interaction of humans and bears, particularly as they relate to resource extraction industries and urban expansion.  Her report, Reducing human-bear conflicts: solutions through better management of non-natural foods (Ciarniello 1997) pioneered the BC Bear Smart program. Lana believes in science-based management of bears. She uses temporal and spatial modeling to seek to explain urban encroachment into bear habitat, natural food shortages, and human-bear conflicts in relation to grizzly and black bear biological requirements and use of urban landscapes by wild bears.  Lana is the sole proprietor of Aklak Wildlife Consulting based in Campbell River, BC. 

Mexican Black Bear Expert Team Chair

Diana Doan-Crider
PO Box 1626
Medina, TX  78055 USA
Phone: (830) 589-3309

Diana is Director of Animo Partnership in Natural Resources.  In addition, she is an Adjunct Faculty member at Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University in College Station, and Northern New Mexico College.  Diana received her degrees from the University of MontanaTexas A&M University-Kingsville, and Texas A&M University-College Station.  In Mexico, the black bear is listed as an endangered and "Priority Species" with the federal government.  Diana serves as Chair for the Mexican Black Bear Expert Team.

Technical and Scientific Advisors

Michael Proctor 
Birchdale Ecological  
PO Box 920
Kaslo, BC
Canada V0G 1M0  
Phone: 250-353-7339

Mike is an independent Canadian bear research ecologist. He completed his PhD in grizzly bear ecology in 2003. He currently researches and implements conservation solutions for small threatened brown bear populations that span the Canada-US border from southern British Columbia. The Trans-border Grizzly Bear Project is an international cooperative effort that uses DNA survey methods and GPS telemetry to identify broad and fine scale population fragmentation, assess and monitor population status, identify core and linkage habitat, and understand habitat use and security through GIS-based habitat modeling of GPS telemetry and DNA survey data. His work also includes efforts to reduce bear-human conflicts. Mike is interested in translating sound scientific research on threatened bear populations into workable conservation solutions. He is currently an IBA council member. Beyond Canada, he has worked in international bear projects in Ecuador, Italy, and Mongolia.

Bruce McLellan
British Columbia Ministry of Forests
PO Box 1732
Darcy, BC
Canada V0N 3K0
Phone: 604-452-3233

Bruce is Wildlife Research Ecologist for the British Columbia Ministry of Forests

John Seidensticker 

3001 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008 USA
Phone: 202 633 4212   
Fax: 202 673 0040

John heads the Conservation Ecology Center in the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at the National Zoo, serves as Chairman of the Save The Tiger Fund Council, is Affiliate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University, and serves as Independent Advisor on the Global Tiger Initiative for The World Bank. His research efforts have focused on understanding and encouraging landscape patterns and conditions where large mammals can persist, training future conservation leaders, and diffusing environmental understanding through his writing, public appearances, and museum and zoo exhibits. He was a student assistant in the Craighead grizzly bear project and pioneered the use of radio telemetry to study mountain lions for his PhD. As founding principal investigator of the Smithsonian-Nepal Tiger Ecology Project, he was co-leader of the team that captured and radio-tracked the first wild tigers in Nepal in 1973 and coauthored the first study of the behavioral ecology of the sloth bear. He has traveled widely in Asia conducting fieldwork in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh and India, in Thailand, Nepal, and in Sri Lanka. He co-authored with Susan Lumpkin the Smithsonian Book of Giant Pandas and Giant Pandas.  To view John's website, click here>>>.

IBA Representative

Frank van Manen
Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team
U.S. Geological Survey
Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
2327 University Way, Suite 2
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: 406-994-5043

Frank is a Research Ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Southern Appalachian Research Branch in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. He holds an Adjunct Professor appointment with the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries at the University of Tennessee. Frank earned a M.S. degree in Biology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Tennessee. Frank blends his research interest in carnivores, particularly bears, with landscape ecology. Much of his research is devoted to predicting species distributions and habitat use, determining wildlife responses to landscape changes, landscape genetics, and population estimation. He has worked collaboratively with bear researchers in North America, Asia, and South America on projects involving five different species of bears. Frank was elected President of the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA) in 2007. He served as Treasurer for IBA from 2001 to 2007.

Polar Bear Specialist Group Chair

Dag Vongraven
Norwegian Polar Institute
FRAM Center
N-9296 Tromso
Phone:  +47 77750638

Dag is a Senior Advisor at the Norwegian Polar Institute, with a responsibility to manage marine species in the Norwegian Arctic for the Norwegian government.  He is the present chairman of the IUCN/Polar Bear Specialist Group.