If you knew there was a bear in the wilderness near you,
what would you do?
For University of Tasmania Surveying and Spatial Sciences graduate Jack Beardsley, his job is to approach the bear, and see what it does.
As a researcher on the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project, it’s just another day at the office – and his office is the stunning Scandinavian wilderness.
“I’ve always had a really strong interest in wildlife, particularly in bears,” he said.
Jack’s tasks include carrying out studies into bear behaviour when humans intrude on their bear “safe space.”
“It’s not nearly as courageous as it sounds. Eurasian brown bears are incredibly shy, and 95 per cent of the time they’ll disappear before we even get there.
When we conduct an approach, we behave like a typical person in a forest who has no idea the bears are there. We use tracking collars to locate where they are when we do these approaches.
“If you’re very lucky, you might get to briefly see the bear before it stands up and runs away.
“In the project’s 30 year history there’s been one, maybe two, possible signs of aggression, and that is basically a ‘bluff charge.’ The bear will stand on its hind legs to get a look at you. Then if it is really uncomfortable, it will run at you and then veer to one side, in an attempt to scare you away.
The same concept doesn’t apply to other bear species in other parts of the world- that would be a very different story.
Jack’s background in physical sciences has been very helpful.
“Remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems have been very applicable and useful in my current work.
After my Honours, I took a role installing really high accuracy GPS systems at the South Pole. This was one of the projects within the University of Tasmania, and it was amazing.
“That experience, particularly with understanding of GPS technology, has certainly been very applicable here, because there’s a strong focus on the bear population we have fitted with collars.
“Scandinavia is a fantastic country to live in. It’s been a wonderful opportunity.”
We can bear-ly wait for you to join us. Apply now to study Surveying and Spatial Sciences.