The Secret Live of Bears
Thursday, October 6, 2022
Rae Wynn-Grant is dedicated to wildlife ecology research, but it wasn’t until life brought her to Kenya at age 20 that she had ever taken a hike, pitched a tent to camp, or seen a wild animal. While there, she studied East African lions—top carnivores that live in close quarters with local communities—and observed that problematic interactions between the two groups threatened conservation efforts. Now, Dr. Wynn-Grant is finding similar patterns for North American black and grizzly bears.
As a scientist with the National Geographic Society’s Last Wild Places Initiative, Dr. Wynn-Grant works to protect and restore iconic wildlife populations—grizzly bears, bison, pronghorn, cougars, and more. But there’s an obstacle: roads, fences, and cattle ranches crisscross the habitat of these wide-ranging animals. Dr. Wynn-Grant studies the movements and behaviors of the bears in an effort to find ways to improve the relationship between local communities and the powerful wildlife that surround them.
Join this committed carnivore ecologist for a fascinating look inside the secret lives of bears and a report from the front lines of the mission to help humans and carnivores coexist peacefully.
Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant is a large carnivore ecologist with an expertise in using statistical modeling to investigate how humans influence carnivore behavior and ecology. In particular, she is currently studying the drivers of human-carnivore conflict, and the influence of human activity on connectivity of suitable carnivore habitat. Her current field system encompasses part of The Great Plains in northeastern Montana where she is studying potential corridors to facilitate grizzly bear conservation. Her previous research questions surrounded the ecological drivers of human-carnivore conflict with black bears in the Western Great Basin, African lions in rural Kenya and Tanzania, as well as grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
A native Californian, Dr. Wynn-Grant attributes her interest in wildlife and conservation from the television shows she watched as a child. She was introduced to the field of conservation biology as an undergraduate and is unapologetic about her passion for studying charismatic megafauna. Dr. Wynn-Grant serves on the Board of Governors for the Society for Conservation Biology, and as a Special Director for The Explorer’s Club, where she largely aids the organizations in their equity, inclusion, and diversity strategies.
Dr. Wynn-Grant received her B.S. in Environmental Studies from Emory University, her M.S. in Environmental Studies from Yale University, and her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Columbia University. She completed a Conservation Science Research and Teaching Postdoctoral fellowship with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research focused on the ecological and social drivers of carnivore behavioral patterns in human-modified landscapes. She is currently a Fellow with National Geographic Society working on carnivore conservation. She maintains a Visiting Scientist position at the American Museum of Natural History and adjunct faculty positions at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University.