The Influence of Human Use on Fine Scale, Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Grizzly Bears in the Bow Valley of Alberta (2004)

Donelon, Steve. 2004. The Influence of Human Use on Fine Scale, Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Grizzly Bears in the Bow Valley of Alberta. Master’s Degree, Environment and Management, Royal Roads University, Victoria, B.C.

Note: The abstract for this Master’s Degree Project is displayed below. You also have the option of downloading a PDF version (4.8 MB file) of the complete document.

By Steve Donelon

(a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Environment and Management, Royal Roads University, Victoria, B.C.)


I examined fine scale spatial and temporal relationships between grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) and trails and developed sites, in two separate areas in the Bow Valley between 2000 and 2003. These relationships were compared for distinct pre-berry and berry foraging seasons using GPS telemetry collars, deployed on four bears in the Canmore area and five bear in the Lake Louise area, and time-recording human use counters on trails.
Diurnal patterns of bear movement activity, examined for six diurnal periods, found significantly shorter mean and median linear one-hour movements occurring during darkness than at any other time of day. This result was consistent for all nine study bears in the Canmore and Lake Louise areas.

Bears in the Canmore area selected areas near trails more than expected during both foraging seasons whereas bears in the Lake Louise area selected these same locations less than expected. An analysis of the diurnal distribution of bear locations in high human use zones at Quarry Lake in the Canmore area and the Lake Louise ski hill demonstrated that bears in both locations used these areas less than expected when human use on trails in the area approaches on event per hour.

A logistic regression model was developed to predict the likelihood of grizzly bear locations occurring within 100 metres of trails. The model provides a very good prediction (91.9% correct) during the berry season for bears in the Canmore area. However the model was unsuccessful in predicting locations for either area during the pre-berry season or for Lake Louise bears during the berry season.

Findings from this research have highlighted both differences and similarities, in the activity patterns and response to human activity, of two sub-populations of grizzly bears in the Central Rockies Ecosystem of Alberta. The results point to the need for site-specific understanding of bear behaviour and adaptive management approaches.

Removing attractants to bears (i.e. Sheperdia canadensis) in areas of high human use, enhancing habitats in areas of low human use, managing human activity in high use areas and planning trails and developments to avoid interaction with bears, are all important components to ensuring the persistence of grizzly bears in this region.

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