Birkel cited in BDN article on flooded bear dens

Sean Birkel, Maine’s state climatologist and a research assistant professor at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, was mentioned in the Bangor Daily News article, “Bear expert: flooded dens a threat to bears, not people.” Heavy flooding from rain occurred earlier than usual this year, according to Jennifer Vashon, the biologist who oversees the state’s bear program within the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. But if early-winter flooding becomes the norm because of climate change, it’s bears that will have to adapt, not people, the article states. Climate change has made January rains more common, a trend that is likely to continue, according to Birkel. But, Vashon said, that just means bears would gradually become more likely to establish their dens on higher ground. “Bears learn,” she said.