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Grizzly bear-human conflicts in the Yellowstone ecosystem, 1992-2000

January 1, 2004

For many years, the primary strategy for managing grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) that came into conflict with humans in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) was to capture and translocate the offending bears away from conflict sites. Translocation usually only temporarily alleviated the problems and most often did not result in long-term solutions. Wildlife managers needed to be able to predict the causes, types, locations, and trends of conflicts to more efficiently allocate resources for pro-active rather than reactive management actions. To address this need, we recorded all grizzly bear-human conflicts reported in the GYE during 1992-2000. We analyzed trends in conflicts over time (increasing or decreasing), geographic location on macro- (inside or outside of the designated Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone [YGBRZ]) and micro- (geographic location) scales, land ownership (public or private), and relationship to the seasonal availability of bear foods. We recorded 995 grizzly bear-human conflicts in the GYE. Fifty-three percent of the conflicts occurred outside and 47% inside the YGBRZ boundary. Fifty-nine percent of the conflicts occurred on public and 41% on private land. Incidents of bears damaging property and obtaining anthropogenic foods were inversely correlated to the abundance of naturally occurring bear foods. Livestock depredations occurred independent of the availability of bear foods. To further aid in prioritizing management strategies to reduce conflicts, we also analyzed conflicts in relation to subsequent human-caused grizzly bear mortality. There were 74 human-caused grizzly bear mortalities during the study, primarily from killing bears in defense of life and property (43%) and management removal of bears involved in bear-human conflicts (28%). Other sources of human-caused mortality included illegal kills, electrocution by downed power-lines, mistaken identification by American black bear (Ursus americanus) hunters, and vehicle strikes. This analysis will help provide wildlife managers the information necessary to develop strategies designed to prevent conflicts from occurring rather than reacting to conflicts after they occur.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2004
Title Grizzly bear-human conflicts in the Yellowstone ecosystem, 1992-2000
DOI 10.2192/1537-6176(2004)015<0010:GBCITG>2.0.CO;2
Authors K.A. Gunther, M.A. Haroldson, S.L. Cain, J. Copeland, K. Frey, C.C. Schwartz
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ursus
Series Number
Index ID 1008613
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center