Distribution of Subadult and Adult Grizzly Bears in Relation to Human Development and Human Activity in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta (2001)


Mueller, Cedar M. 2001. Distribution of Subadult and Adult Grizzly Bears in Relation to Human Development and Human Activity in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta. Master’s Degree Project, Resources and the Environment Program, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.
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By Cedar M. Mueller
(a thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies in partial fulfillment of the reqirements for the degree of Master of Science, Resources and the Environment Program, University of Calgary)

ABSTRACT

I compared the distribution of radio telemetry locations collected from 23 subadult and 29 adult grizzly bears (Ursus arctos), between 1994 – 2000, in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta. On average, subadult bears were located significantly closer to high-use roads and at lower elevations than adult bears. Both subadult and adult bears were significantly closer to high-use roads and at lower elevations during human inactive periods (1800 – 0700) than during human active periods (0700 – 1800). Subadult bears were closer to high-use roads than adult bears, regardless of the time of day. This meant subadult bears were predisposed to greater encounter rates with humans, and therefore had a greater chance of becoming habituated and a greater chance of being killed or removed from the population by humans. I compared individual characteristics of four subadult female grizzly bears in the Lake Louise area between 1998-2000. By the end of 2000, one subadult female was wary of humans and their developments, and had a strong likelihood of surviving in the years to come; two were highly habituated to humans; and one was killed on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) tracks. For these bears, individual behaviour was a better indicator of bear response to humans than age or sex class. For areas where there is considerable human activity, I recommend grizzly bear management at the individual level, with increased focus on the subadult age class. I make specific management recommendations for the Lake Louise area.

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