Washington State University

School of the Environment

Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center



The WSU Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center is a one-of-a-kind facility that aims to provide information and the necessary understanding to conserve bears around the world.


Research at the Bear Center covers a range of disciplines, including nutrition, physiology, ecology, behaviorreproduction, and learning and memory. We investigate questions such as: What is the ideal diet for a bear? How do bears know when to hibernate? What determines cub production and growth? What enrichment activities are best for captive bears?

Graduate students involved with the Bear Center also conduct research with wild bears—investigating questions such as: How diets of bears in Yellowstone and other wilderness areas have changed over the years? How has the productivity of bear populations changed as food resources are altered? How do human activities, including tourism, affect bear populations?

The synergy of wild and captive research strengthens overall understanding of bear biology and ecology, and distinguishes the program as a unique opportunity to understand and improve conservation and management.

In addition to better understanding bears, physiological studies with the bears continue to help us understand human pathologies. For example, how the maintenance of heart function, bone strength, and muscle mass by bears during hibernation can be extended to humans with failing hearts or weakened muscles due to disease or spinal cord damage.

See CONSERVATION NEED and RESEARCH for more information about why the Bear Center was established and the work we do.



Phone: 509-335-1119



The WSU Bear Center has even more questions to answer—with applications reaching as far as polar bear conservation and hibernation physiology—but research is limited by the lack of modern facilities. Help us work towards our goal of a new bear facility, and even more ground-breaking research by donating to the cause.


To donate to the WSU Bear Program, click on “DONATE”, email, or call 509-335-1119 to discuss how you might help.

Read more about the proposed National Bear Center

School of the Environment, PO Box 642812, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-2812, 509-335-3009, Contact Us
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