Grizzly Bear Mortality and Human Access in Banff and Yoho National Parks (2000)

Benn, Bryon and Stephen Herrero. 2000. Grizzly Bear Mortality and Human Access in Banff and Yoho National Parks, 1971-98.
Accepted by Ursus

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Bryon Benn and Stephen Herrero

Abstract: We conducted spatial and temporal analyses to examine the relationship between access, changing grizzly bear management strategies and grizzly bear mortality for the period 1971-98 in Banff and Yoho National Parks, Canada. We summarized mortality rates by cause of death, sex, age, and cohort. The annual number of grizzly bear deaths declined significantly from 1971-1984 to 1985-98. However, the female portion of this mortality was 80% from 1985-98. Total human-caused mortality rates for the 2 parks combined were estimated at 7-9% for the 1971-84 analysis period. These estimated rates dropped to below 2% during 1985-98. Human-related causes were the primary sources of recorded grizzly bear mortality in the study area (119 of 131 known mortalities). Problem wildlife control accounted for 71% of 119 known human-caused mortalities, followed by highway and railway mortalities (19%), unknown cause of death (9%), and research (<1%). One hundred percent of 96 human-caused mortalities with known accurate locations fell within 500m of roads and 200m of trails (25% of the area of suitable habitat in the study area). Eighty percent of 96 mortalities occurred below 2000m. Area-concentrated kills occurred at Banff townsite, Lake Louise, and along the Trans Canada Highway. Management of development, trail access and human food and garbage are critical for managing grizzly bear mortality in the national parks. We present specific recommendations.


Grizzly bears in Banff and Yoho National Parks are part of a regional ecosystem called the Central Rockies Ecosystem (Figure 1). The Central Rockies Ecosystem is experiencing intensive exploration and development of coal, oil and gas, cattle production, timber harvesting, housing and highway development, and outdoor recreation. Moreover, present attitudes towards the grizzly bear, a potentially dangerous animal (Herrero 1985) and competitor for food and space (Mattson 1990), challenge human – grizzly bear coexistence. As a result, the grizzly bear is suffering from continuing habitat degradation and potentially unsustainable mortality rates in some regions of the Central Rockies Ecosystem (Herrero et al. 2000).

The national park portions of the Central Rockies Ecosystem continue to experience increases in human use, commercial development and major transportation expansion with ongoing twinning of the Trans Canada Highway through Banff National Park (Banff-Bow Valley Study 1996). The grizzly bear population estimate for Banff National Park ranges from 55-85 (Vroom 1974, Gibeau et al. 1996). Interagency planning for effective land use at the regional scale (Herrero 1995), whereby bears can meet their energetic requirements, and encounters between humans and bears can be reduced, may be the best option for reducing grizzly bear mortality (Mattson and Knight 1991).

Natural survival rates for adult grizzly bears in unhunted populations are high and consistent (Knight and Eberhardt 1985, McLellan 1989), whereas young bears die more frequently of natural causes such as intraspecific aggression (Stringham 1983), accidents (Nagy et al. 1983), and nutrition related causes (Nagy et al. 1983, Knight et al. 1988). In the southern parts of grizzly bear range, natural mortality is infrequently discovered, and is probably a minor cause of adult mortality (McLellan et al. 1999). Mortality data from around North America show that human-caused mortality far outnumbers natural mortality (Craighead et al. 1988, Carr 1989, McLellan 1989, Dood and Pac 1993, Gunson 1995, Gibeau et al. 1996). Historical (Storer and Tevis 1955, Noble 1972, Nielsen 1975, Young and Beyers 1980, McCrory and Herrero 1982, Brown 1985) and recent works (McLellan and Shackleton 1988, Mattson et al. 1996, Gibeau et al. 1996, Benn 1998, McLellan et al. 1999) consistently link the type and degree of human land use with grizzly bear mortality.

Percentage values for sustainable total and harvest mortality rates have been identified in computer simulated populations (Bunnell and Tait 1980, Harris 1984, Harris 1986). However, no clear understanding exists of the relative risk of mortality posed to bears by human activities other than hunting. Determination of population numbers and vital rates for grizzly bears require long term study, and the number of undetected mortalities are typically estimated by inference. However, McLellan et al. (1999) used unreported mortality of radio-collared bears from various western cordilleran studies to estimate the percentage of unreported human-caused mortality. Due to the difficulty in reliably determining all relevant variables, the threshold where grizzly bear populations begin to decline can rarely be determined precisely.

Roads are frequently implicated as contributing to increased grizzly bear mortality, as they facilitate access for a host of human activities, increase the frequency of energetically costly flight responses, and increase vehicle related mortalities (Mattson et al. 1987, McLellan and Shackleton 1988, McLellan 1989, Nagy et al. 1989, BCMOELP 1995, Gibeau et al. 1996). As well, roadside vegetation may attract bears to roads compounding the risk. At some scale, grizzlies, in particular established adult females, will cease crossing major transportation corridors (Gibeau and Herrero 1998a).

We analysed grizzly bear mortality for Banff and Yoho National Parks for the period 1971-98. Results are discussed temporally with respect to changing grizzly bear management strategies, and spatially to examine the effects of access on mortality in the grizzly bear population.

Study Area

The study area is defined politically by the outermost boundaries of Banff and Yoho National Parks (Figure 1). Banff National Park is 6,836 km2 and Yoho National Park is 1,313 km2. A description of the vegetation and climate for the entire Central Rockies Ecosystem is provided in Benn (1998). Both national parks are dissected by major transportation corridors. Approximately 42% of the area of these parks is rock and ice. Thus, grizzly bear habitat is restricted to major vegetated valley systems. Human use is also concentrated in major valley systems.

Figure 1. Study area map. The National Parks of the Central Rockies Ecosystem (Benn 1998).


Grizzly bear mortality databases and immobilization (translocation) databases were supplied by Banff and Yoho National Parks for the period 1971-98. Additional mortality records came from other wildlife files provided by Parks Canada Western Region Office, annual warden and superintendent reports, a consultant’s report (Millson 1978), and several graduate theses (Noble 1972, Taylor 1984). Mortalities include dead bears, and bears translocated so far that they are considered unable to interact with the population of the removal area.

Mortality Summaries

We used all mortality data to summarize mortality by cause of death, sex, age, and cohort. To estimate mortality rates, we used population estimates of 60 and 80 (Gibeau et al. 1996) for Banff National Park and 20 for Yoho National Park (Benn 1998). These were based on the subjective assessments of knowledgeable field personnel. The following equation was used to estimate mortality rates:

• estimated mortality rate = number of mortalities/period in years/population estimate

Spatial Analyses

National park access information came from 1:50,000 digital National Topographic Series data supplied by Parks Canada. Mortality locations were referenced to the UTM grid to the nearest 100m, with a location descriptor such as a river, creek, or cultural feature added. Interviews were conducted with past and present wardens and wildlife managers to collect additional information about specific mortalities and their locations. Accurate locations were those described by UTM grid reference (+100m) and matching geographic descriptor. Reasonable locations were described as being within some stated distance from a known road, trail, drainage or development. Estimated and unknown locations contained a vague or no description of the kill site respectively, and were not used in the spatial analyses.

The access and mortality data were entered into a geographic information system, MapInfo 4.0 (MapInfo Corporation, Troy, New York). Zones of influence (ZOI) of 500m and 200m were set around roads and trails respectively. The road layer included railway lines and all roads open to the public and negotiable by 2 wheel drive vehicle. The trail layer included roads closed to the public, utility corridors, and any other linear access features accessible by hiking, mountain biking, or horseback. For zone of influence area calculations, road and trail buffers were combined into a single coverage. The area of overlap was only calculated once, and mortality locations in the area of overlap were analysed as occurring within road buffers, as roads were assumed to have a greater effect on mortality risk than trails. These data were used to test the following hypothesis:

• Ho1: The distribution of mortalities on the landscape did not differ from a random distribution.

The number of random points expected within the buffer zones was created by multiplying the total number of mortalities by the proportion of the area of suitable habitat covered by buffers. Suitable habitat is land below 2400m. Above this, there is little grizzly bear foraging (Gibeau and Herrero 1998b). We tested the distribution of mortality locations against a random distribution of points at the 0.05 level of significance, with a single-classification Goodness of Fit Test (G-test with William’s Correction Factor), using the random points inside and outside of zones of influence as expected values.

We tested mortality locations for sensitivity to minor inaccuracies by systematically perturbing all points by 300m in each of the four cardinal compass directions. We then retested hypothesis 1 with the four new values.

Mortalities were tallied with respect to proximity to townsites and commercial tourist operations. Analysis of these features considered the presence or absence of food attractants (Weaver et al. 1986; Mattson et al. 1987).

We compared the elevation of 95 human-caused grizzly bear mortality locations with a series of elevations taken at geographic landmarks along the Bow and Kicking Horse River valleys, and with the elevations of some popular tourist destinations and park developments.

Temporal Analyses

To relate changes in mortality characteristics with changing patterns of human use and evolving management concerns and actions, we stratified the mortality data into 2 periods. We chose 1984-1985 as the break, although no major changes occurred in any single year. Rather a series of events in the early 1980s led to a progressive modification in management practices. These actions included 1) the 1980 Whiskey Creek bear maulings in Banff National Park (Westhaver and Williams 1980, Herrero 1985), which stimulated increased efforts at communication and public education with respect to bears and improved garbage management, 2) closure of the Banff landfill in 1981, and 3) commencement of fencing of the Trans Canada Highway from the east park gate in 1983. Also, we recognized that it would take a few years for the bear population to adapt behaviorally to events such as the landfill closure. Finally, for ease of comparison, these 2 periods are of equal length. The non-parametric pairwise Mann-Whitney U-test was used to test for differences in frequencies between periods. All tests were run at the 0.05 level of significance. The following hypotheses were tested:

• Ho2: The annual number of grizzly bear mortalities in Banff and Yoho National Parks did not differ significantly between the periods, 1971-84 and 1985-98.

• Ho3: The annual number of problem wildlife grizzly bear mortalities in Banff and Yoho National Parks did not differ significantly between the periods, 1971-84 and 1985-98.

Finally, we analysed all dated mortalities by cause of death and by grizzly bear seasons (April-July = pre-berry, July-Oct = berry, Oct-Dec = post-berry).


There were 131 grizzly bear mortality records in Banff and Yoho National Parks, of which 12 were natural deaths, all in Banff National Park. We used the remaining 108 records from Banff National Park and 11 from Yoho National Park to summarize human-caused grizzly bear mortality.

Mortality Summaries

Average annual mortality was 4.3 grizzly bears/year, with peaks of 15 recorded deaths in 1972 and 13 in 1980 (Figure 2). The human-caused mortality rate from 1971-98 was estimated to be 5.3% or 4.3% using the combined population estimates of 80 or 100 for Banff and Yoho National Parks respectively.

Figure 2. Annual number of human-caused grizzly bear mortalities by type for Banff and Yoho National Parks, 1971-98 (n=119). PW=problem wildlife, H/RR=highway/railway, Other=research or unknown (Benn 1998).

Problem wildlife control actions (n=85) and highway and railway mortalities (n=22) accounted for 71% and 19% of the 119 human-caused grizzly bear deaths recorded. The remaining 10% (n=12) included 1 research related incident and 11 deaths of unknown cause. In addition to mortalities recorded within Banff and Yoho National Parks, at least seven research grizzlies known to use Banff and Yoho National Parks were killed in British Columbia and Alberta (Gibeau and Herrero 1998c). The breakdown of mortalities by sex, age, and cohort is presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Percent grizzly bear mortality by sex, age, and cohort for Banff and Yoho National Parks, 1971-98 (n=119). The number of records is in parentheses (Benn 1998).

Sex male 33.9 (40) female 33.9 (40) unknown 32.2 (39)
Age adult 34.7 (41) dependent 29.7 (35) subadult 12.7 (16)
unknown 22.9 (27)
Cohort dependent 29.4 (35) ad.female 16.0 (19) ad.male 15.1 (18)
sub.female 7.6 (9) sub.male 1.7 (2) unknown 30.3 (36)

Of all human-caused grizzly bear mortalities where the cohort was known, adult females and dependent young accounted for 65% (54 of 83). Females accounted for 50% of all mortalities of known sex since 1971, and even after closure of the Banff landfill in 1981, 83% (18 of 23) of bear mortalities of known sex were female. An additional 11 mortalities were unclassified as to sex during this time. Figure 3 shows the percentage of females in the annual mortality.

Of 85 problem wildlife mortalities, 64.7% (55) were destroyed and 35.3% (30) were handled for translocation purposes. Thirteen of the grizzlies handled died accidently, and 15 were translocated. Five of the translocated bears were placed in the Calgary Zoo and 5 are known to have died in Alberta within 1-2 years of capture (1 shot legally, 2 shot illegally, 1 problem wildlife, 1 unknown fate).

Eleven family groups consisting of at least 6 cubs of the year and 10 yearlings were destroyed or translocated out of the ecosystem. This was considered a minimum number as 69% of 64 recorded problem wildlife mortalities were adult females (n=17) and bears of dependent age (n=27), and 21 records had no sex or age attached. Of 15 highway and railway mortalities where the cohort was known, adult males accounted for 47% (n=7), dependent bears 33% (n=5), and adult and subadult females 20% (n=3).

Figure 3. Percentage of females in the annual grizzly bear mortality. Numbers above the bars are the total number of mortalities with sex known for that year.

Spatial Analyses

Approximately 58% (4,726 of 8,149 km2) of the study area is suitable grizzly bear habitat. Zones of influence occupy about 25% of this area of suitable habitat (Gibeau and Herrero 1998b). One hundred percent of 95 human-caused grizzly bear mortalities, classified as having accurate or reasonable locations, occurred within zones of influence along roads and trails, and around human settlements (Figure 4). Many of the points around Banff and Lake Louise represent >1 mortality. The null hypothesis (Ho1) with respect to a random distribution of mortality locations was rejected (G=391.046, df=1, P=0). Perturbations of the data did not alter the results of Ho1 [ i) G=265.578, df=1, P=0; ii) G=353.007, df=1, P=0; iii) G=323.437, df=1, P=0; iv) G=288.971, df=1, P=0]. Area-concentrated mortality occurred at Banff and Lake Louise townsites, and along the Trans Canada Highway (Table 2).

Figure 4. Map of grizzly bear mortality locations in relation to roads and trails in the National Parks study area, 1971-96 (Benn 1998).

Table 2. Types of developments and land uses where human-caused grizzly bear mortalities occurred in Banff and Yoho National Parks, 1971-98 (n=95) * (Benn 1998).

Location of kill


Detail of Locations

Highway / railway 22 Trans Canada (16), Banff-Jasper (2), other
(1), railway (3)
Townsites 27 Lake Louise (15), Chateau Lake Louise (7),
Banff (2), Field (3)
Garbage dumps / landfills 19 Banff (15), Lake Louise (4)
Campgrounds 16
Ski Resorts 8 Lake Louise (3), Norquay (3), Sunshine (2)
Commercial Lodges 11
Warden cabins 3

* Total number listed is >95, as Highway mortalities at some townsites are tallied twice.

Eighty percent (n=77) of all known mortality locations were below 1800m (5900 ft). The remaining 20% (n=19) fell between 1800m and 2100m (6890 ft, Figure 5). Treeline in the Central Rockies Ecosystem is approximately 2210-2270m (7200-7400 ft).

Figure 5. Frequency of grizzly bear mortality locations for a range of elevations in Banff and Yoho National Parks, 1971-96 (n=95) (Benn 1998).

Elevations at some specific locations through the parks: Banff 1375m (4500 ft), Castle Junction 1430m (4700 ft), Lake Louise 1540m (5100 ft), Kicking Horse Pass 1650m (5400 ft), Field, BC 1250m (4100 ft). The Chateau Lake Louise 1740m (5700 ft), Skoki Lodge 2135m (7000 ft), Moraine Lake Lodge 1900m (6200 ft), Lake O’Hara 2000m (6600 ft).

Temporal Analyses

We rejected Hypotheses 2 and 3 as the annual number of mortalities (total and problem wildlife) declined significantly into the 1985-98 period [total (n1=99, n2=20), U=151.0000, P=0.0003; problem wildlife (n1=69, n2=16), U=136.5, P=0.0034). The estimated mortality rate declined from 7.1-8.8% during the 1971-84 period to 1.4-1.8% in the 1985-98 period.

Problem wildlife mortality was the greatest cause (85 of 119) of grizzly bear death in both analysis periods. Although the number of problem wildlife deaths declined in the 1984-98 period, the percentage of female (adult and subadult) problem wildlife mortalities increased from 50% to 80%. Adult females and dependent bears increased from 66% (33 of 50) of the total mortality in the early period, to 79% (11 of 14) during 1984-98. Only 2 of 22 highway and railway mortalities occurred in the latter analysis period.

Of 72 dated human-caused grizzly bear mortalities, 57% (n=41) occurred during the berry season (mid-July-late September) and 35% (n=25) and 8% (n=6) took place in the pre-berry, and post-berry seasons respectively. Seventy-five percent (n=36) and 58% (n=28) of 48 dated problem wildlife mortalities occurred during the peak tourist season (late June – early September) and during the berry season respectively. Berry season is the time of year when Central Rockies Ecosystem grizzlies normally feed primarily on buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis) at lower elevation, often along roads and in close proximity to people.

Discussion and Conclusions

Ecological integrity is the stated priority of the national parks (Banff National Park 1997) and the grizzly bear serves as the premier indicator of the health of the terrestrial ecosystem (Banff-Bow Valley Study 1996, Gibeau et al. 1996). Managing grizzly bear mortality at a level that prevents population decline is fundamental. As precise measurements of population vital rates are not yet available, management of mortality must be conservative and management plans must consider adjacent jurisdictions in Alberta and B.C. (Herrero et al. 1998).

The 119 recorded human-caused grizzly bear deaths in Banff and Yoho National Parks were considered to be the minimum number from 1971-98. Past and present wardens and wildlife managers suggested that there were probably more mortalities than were recorded, particularly during the 1970s (R. Kunelius, retired Park Warden, Banff National Park, Alberta, personal communication 1997; M. Gibeau, Principle Researcher, Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project, University of Calgary, Alberta, personal communication 1997; D. Poll Wildlife Biologist, Parks Canada, Calgary Office, Alberta, personal communication 1997). This large number of human-caused grizzly bear mortalities contrasts strongly with the adjacent and larger Jasper National Park, where from 1975-98 there were only 39 known grizzly bear mortalities (13 females, 15 males, 11 unknown, W. Bradford, Wildlife Warden, Jasper National Park, Jasper, Alberta, personal communication 1999).

Problem wildlife mortality was the most significant cause of death throughout the period of this study. Although the number of problem wildlife deaths declined in the 1984-98 period, the percentage of female problem wildlife mortalities increased from 50% to 80%. This estimated human-caused female mortality percentage (82% for the 1984-98 period) is the highest reported for a 10+ year period for any grizzly bear population. As well, the human-caused mortality percentage of dependent bears remained high throughout the study period. These results may be explained by changing habitat use by specific cohorts over time. The higher estimated percentage of male mortality in the early period was probably the result of more male bears feeding closer to people (in landfills and unsanitary campgrounds, Noble 1972). With the landfill closures and improved camper attitudes and garbage management, adult males may then have selected habitats remote from human activity zones. Adult females with young and subadult grizzlies may then have been more likely to use habitats near people, presumably to avoid adult males (Mattson et al. 1992, Gibeau et al. 1996). Thus, they may have been prone to habituation and attraction to human food and garbage, increasing their mortality risk and potential for being destroyed or translocated as “problem” animals (Mattson et al. 1987). This dynamic was previously described for the Yellowstone Ecosystem (Craighead et al. 1995).

Where grizzly bears are subject to human-caused mortality, there is still a strong need to manage human food, garbage and access, as a way of keeping grizzly bears and people spatially separated, especially in seasonally important grizzly bear habitats. Mattson (1993) states that human-caused mortality is the primary cause of population declines and extirpations, and that human access interacting with human values and attitudes determines the frequency and lethality of bear-human contacts.

We found that grizzly bears died at low elevations and near human settlements and access routes (95 of 95 accurate and reasonable locations were within 500m of a road or 200m of a trail). Roads, trails, and developments are almost always placed in valley bottoms, often fragmenting riparian habitats. Similarly, area concentrated kills at settlements such as Banff and Lake Louise Townsites and along roads and trails occurred throughout the Central Rockies Ecosystem (Benn 1998) and in other grizzly bear populations (Mattson et al. 1987, McLellan and Shackleton 1989a, Nagy et al. 1989, Mace et al. 1996). Roads and trails improve access, and when placed in important seasonal habitats, increase the potential for negative bear-human encounters (McLellan and Shackleton 1989b). Increased access to the backcountry has been shown to alter bear behavior (McCullough 1982, Jope 1985), increase bear-human conflicts (Dalle-Molle and Van Horn 1989), increase the number of grizzly bear removals (Martinka 1982, Leonard et al. 1990), and displace certain cohorts, such as females with young (Mattson et al. 1987, Gilbert 1989).

Our estimated human-caused mortality rate of 7.1-8.8% for the 1971-84 analysis period exceeded the suggested 6.5% total human-caused mortality for sustainability of a grizzly bear population (Harris 1986). The abrupt decline in grizzly bear mortality into the mid 1980s was correlated with closing the Banff landfill, improvements to garbage management, increased public education regarding living and recreating in bear country, greater tolerance of grizzly bears, fencing of the Trans Canada Highway, and increased use of aversive conditioning techniques over removals. However, the high mortality rate of the early period may have depressed the park’s grizzly bear population. This possible effect could have continued through the 1984-98 period even with the lower estimated mortality rate (1.4-1.8%), due to lag effect and mortality being concentrated in the female cohort. Closures of Yellowstone National Park landfills were followed by sharp declines in reproductive and survival rates (Craighead et al. 1974). In Yellowstone, the number of recorded mortalities almost doubled in the 2 years of major landfill closures, as bears sought food around other human developments and settlements (Knight and Eberhardt 1984, Mattson et al. 1992, Craighead et al. 1995).

Human intolerance and inadequate management of access and food attractants continue to be important contributing factors to grizzly bear mortality in Banff National Park. Additional concerns are related to the role of national parks as protected areas, the continuing high rate of commercial development inside and near the parks, and the associated decline in the amount of secure habitat available for grizzlies (Gibeau and Herrero 1998b). These concerns are well-founded given the high female mortality rate and the large number of family groups that have been removed from the ecosystem near developments and access routes.

In Banff National Park, specific steps have been taken to reduce human-caused grizzly bear mortality. Recommendations by the Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project to the Banff-Bow Valley Task Force (Gibeau et al. 1996) led to the implementation of an annual human-caused mortality target of <1% of the estimated grizzly bear population. Also, habitat effectiveness targets aimed at supporting grizzly bear habitat use have been set for most carnivore management units. Other actions being taken or considered are removing or reducing human use from seasonal high quality grizzly bear habitats, regulating the number of people on certain trails, trail closures during periods when a given area offers important feeding opportunities for grizzlies, moving facilities out of important wildlife movement corridors to afford bears the room to move around developed areas, and aversive conditioning of roadside habituated bears. By implementing such measures aimed at reducing potential conflicts between humans and grizzlies, human-caused grizzly bear mortality and the potential for human injury can be reduced. There is an urgent need for these measures to be successful in the national parks and the rest of the Central Rockies Ecosystem. A recent population and habitat viability assessment workshop predicted both population and habitat declines for grizzly bears in the Central Rockies Ecosystem (Herrero et al. 2000). Grizzly bear management will have come of age in national parks when almost all adult grizzly bears in the parks die natural, not human-caused deaths. Because Banff and Yoho National Parks are assumed to serve as core refugia for sensitive species such as grizzly bears, and because grizzly bear hunting exists on most of the land surrounding these national parks, human-caused mortality inside of the parks must be minimal.


The following recommendations are based on the stated goal of Parks Canada to maintain a naturally regulated population and distribution of grizzly bears in the mountain national parks. These recommendations are offered as ways to prevent future increases in mortality, to reduce the unnecessary killing of grizzly bears, and to assist in the inter-jurisdictional management of grizzly bear mortality.

1. During the analysis period, a considerable number of grizzly bear deaths were thought to not have been recorded in official park databases, and the records were often missing important data. This has improved in recent years, but accurate, consistent, and complete reporting and recording of mortality and translocation data are necessary.

2. There is some variation in the way mortality data are classified between jurisdictions in the Central Rockies Ecosystem. Park wildlife managers should work with managers from other jurisdictions to develop the same coding conventions, and clearly define the different causes of death.

3. DNA censusing techniques have been used recently to generate population estimates (Gibeau and Herrero 1998a). Unfortunately, sampling intensity was not sufficient for acceptable confident limits. We recommend increasing the level of commitment to population estimation as appropriate assessment techniques become available.

4. Acquiring accurate mortality locations is necessary for understanding and managing mortality with respect to access, development and use of the landscape. Mortality needs to be monitored into the future to understand the effectiveness of management decisions. Additional information needs to be collected such as the distance a bear died from an access route or facility, the type of access route, the condition of the access route at the time of the mortality, and the mode of travel of the person(s) responsible for the killing or translocating of the bear. In addition, detailed notes about the cause of the mortality are required, such as were any food attractants present, were natural food species present, and what, if any human behaviors played a role in the mortality.

5. We recommend more commitment to quotas and/or closures of roads and trails to permit use by grizzlies of seasonally important feeding sites. Approximately 21% of Yellowstone National Park is seasonally closed to the public (C. Schwartz. Leader, Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Research, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, personal communication 2000).

6. Area closures should be proactive and not just after an incident. They should be based on indicators such as habitat quality and known bear use of an area.

7. Effective legislation and enforcement should be employed with respect to food and garbage handling. All backcountry users should be required to store food, garbage, and horse feed in bear-proof metal or seamless PVC containers, or effectively elevate attractants between trees, or isolate camp within an effective portable electric fence. Management of garbage, as well as human and pet foods, continues to be a problem around Banff, Lake Louise and in some campgrounds. Food-conditioned grizzly bears present an increased threat to human safety (Herrero 1985), and usually end up being destroyed or translocated.

8. To understand the effects that new management strategies and probable increases in human use of grizzly bear habitat have on grizzly bear mortality and population status, analyses should be repeated and reassessed in the future with more accurate population estimates.

9. Work with provincial wildlife agencies to set up no hunting zones around the parks. Many grizzly bears in high use recreational areas have become accustomed to living close to people. This makes them vulnerable to people in areas where hunting is permitted when they appear at close range, even when the bears are acting naturally and non-aggressively. Such bears frequently die from people’s perceived self-defense and illegal activities.

10. Increase the use of aversive conditioning programs on roadside and campground habituated bears. On-site releases and aversive conditioning of many problem bears would reduce the costs and risks associated with translocating grizzlies.

11. If translocating problem bears continues to be used as a management tool, initiate a study using radio-marked translocated bears to look at the success of such translocations, and the fate of the bears moved. If certain sites are used for multiple releases, radio-mark a sample of resident bears to understand the effect these releases might have on the resident population.

12. Continue informing the public about bear activity in high human use areas, and educating the public with respect to how to behave in bear country.

All of these recommendations will require adequate funding to be carried out.


We thank Dave Poll, Bill Vroom, Mike Gibeau, Paul Paquet, Ardys Flegel, Scott Jevons, and many from the Parks Canada Warden Service. We are also indebted to the Eastern Slopes Grizzly Project Steering Committee and the Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary for funding and support. John Nagy, Cliff White, and Mike Gibeau reviewed and provided constructive comments on the manuscript.

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