Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Grizzly bear denning chronology and movements in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

August 10, 2015

Den entrance and emergence dates of grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are important to management agencies that wish to minimize impacts of human activities on bears. Current estimates for grizzly bear denning events use data that were collected from 1975–80. We update these estimates by including data obtained from 1981–99. We used aerial telemetry data to estimate week of den entry and emergence by determining the midpoint between the last known active date and the first known date denned, as well as the last known date denned and the first known active date. We also investigated post emergence movement patterns relative to den locations. Mean earliest and latest week of den entry and emergence were also determined. Den entry for females began during the fourth week in September, with 90% denned by the fourth week of November. Earliest den entry for males occurred during the second week of October, with 90% denned by the second week of December. Mean week of den entry for known pregnant females was earlier than males. Earliest week of den entry for known pregnant females was earlier than other females and males. Earliest den emergence for males occurred during the first week of February, with 90% of males out of dens by the fourth week of April. Earliest den emergence for females occurred during the third week of March; by the first week of May, 90% of females had emerged. Male bears emerged from dens earlier than females. Denning period differed among classes and averaged 171 days for females that emerged from dens with cubs, 151 days for other females, and 131 days for males. Known pregnant females tended to den at higher elevations and, following emergence, remained at higher elevation until late May. Females with cubs remained relatively close (<3 km) to den sites until the last 2 weeks in May. Timing of denning events was similar to previous estimates for this and other grizzly bear populations in the southern Rocky Mountains. 

Citation Information

Publication Year 2002
Title Grizzly bear denning chronology and movements in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
DOI
Authors Mark A. Haroldson, Mark A. Ternent, Kerry A. Gunther, Charles C. Schwartz
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ursus
Series Number
Index ID 70159902
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center