PhD Environmental Science student, John Kitchin is researching an exploration of human and non-human animal relationships, addressing concerns of conflict and coexistence especially when living with large carnivores such as the brown bear. In the summer of 2015 he visited Slovenia to meet with a large carnivore biologist and researchers engaged in this type of study. The site in Slovenia hosts a large population of brown bears which is baited with maize to reduce the bears feeding around towns and settlements.
John said “It is thanks to the Bright Futures Fund Awards that I was able to experience first-hand the habitat of European Brown Bears and learn from the perspective and experience of an experienced local biologist who hosted my stay. The connections formed through the visit will be hugely beneficial to the progress of my PhD. I also got to crawl inside a bear den and experience for myself what the dark and sleepy 5/6 months of a bears’ year is like. After spending the last four years studying them while they are awake and feeding, this was a remarkable and affirmative experience”.
John is negotiating the potential for collaboration of a chapter in an up-coming publication: Ursus arctos: the cultural heritage of the brown bear, currently under review with a publisher. There will also be a short film output for the website www.youmebear.com with the longer term benefits of adding new knowledge to a wide and expanding base of academic literature that covers human/non-human animal relationships.