(Photo, left) Tracy Rittenhouse and Mike Evans, PhD student on the project, pose near one of their bear hair traps (inset photo shows hair sample on the barbed wire.) Map images from the Bears are Back Story Map show bear densities across the state; (above) the current estimated distribution, and (right) housing density that bears live in from 6-50 houses/km2. Cameras around the study areas captured this sow (female) and her three cubs. Telling Stories with Maps their environment survive well in exurban locations. Rittenhouse collaborates with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) Wildlife Division on real life wildlife issues. “Working with DEEP is my way of making sure I am asking research questions that are applicable to real world situations,” she said. “I often try to identify actions that wildlife management professionals or urban planners can take that will allow a species to live in an area. The action is often simple, often a slight change, but we hope that a small change may keep a species from declining or becoming overabundant.” “We studied black bears by collecting hair samples. Collecting black bear hair is not as difficult as it sounds, as bears will use their nose to find a new scent even if they need to cross a strand of barbed wire that snags a few hairs. The hair contains DNA and therefore the information that we used to identify individuals. For two summers we gathered information on which bear visited each of the hair corrals every week. In total we collected 935 black bear hair samples,” Tracy says. As Connecticut residents revel in the open spaces of exurban lifestyles, Tracy Rittenhouse and her students keep watch- ful, caring eyes on the effects of human behavior on wild animals that have no voice. Home may be where the heart is or where one hangs one’s hat, but for the wild critters of Connecticut, home may be a precarious place as they adapt to change. Cary Chadwick, UConn CLEAR, used the research results on black bears in Connecticut to create a companion “story map,” an application created by GIS indus- try leader Esri that enables the seamless combination of online maps with other types of information such as images, vid- eos, graphs and graphics. Story maps are designed to communicate complicated in- formation, data, and analysis to the public in a user-friendly, interactive story-telling experience. The Bears are Back story map includes information about the research project, including: • Recolonization of historic black bear range in northwestern CT • Sow (female) & cub sightings by town • Reported incidents and conflict frequen- cy maps • Locations where conflict can be pre- dicted based on incidents and landscape characteristics • Research methods and location of field sites • Wildlife camera trap photographs of cor- ral visitors • Bear counts and estimated “center of activity” per individual • Extent of “exurban” areas in CT where ideal development patterns may lead to higher concentrations of bears • Estimated distribution map of current estimated bear density across north- western CT • Links to more information about how in- dividuals can become “bear smart” and co-exist peacefully with CT’s black bears • Link to research published in Landscape and Urban Planning • Additional information from UConn’s Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation Center and CT DEEP. Visit the Bears Story Map: https://s.uconn. edu/bears. 2017 HIGHLIGHTS OF EXTENSION 19 TOOLS & TRAINING