The negative impacts on bears (Ursus spp.) from human activities associated with roads and developments are well documented. These impacts include displacement of bears from high-quality foods and habitats, diminished habitat effectiveness, and reduced survival rates. Additionally, increased public visitations to national parks accompanied with benign encounters with bears along park roads have caused more bears to habituate to the presence of people. In some contexts, habituation can predispose bears to being exposed to and rewarded by anthropogenic foods, which can also lower survival rates. The managers and staff of Yellowstone National Park located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, USA, and Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming, USA have implemented several proactive strategies to mitigate the negative aspects of bear habituation. These strategies include providing park visitors with educational information on bear viewing etiquette, managing roadside viewing opportunities, installing bear-resistant infrastructure, hazing bears from developments, enforcing food and garbage storage regulations, and making human activities as predictable as possible to bears. Under the current management strategies, thousands of visitors are still able to view, photograph, and appreciate bears while visiting these parks each year. The opportunity to view bears provides a positive visitor experience and contributes millions of dollars to the local economies of park gateway communities. Positive bear viewing experiences also help build an important appreciation and conservation ethic for bears in people that visit national parks. For many years, managers were concerned about decreasing and threatened bear populations. Now more jurisdictions are facing new challenges caused by increasing bear populations. This paper highlights a successful attempt to address these issues.
Gunther, Kerry A.; Wilmot, Katharine R.; Cain, Steven L.; Wyman, Travis C.; Reinertson, Eric G.; and Bramblett, Amanda M.
"Managing Human-Habituated Bears to Enhance Survival, Habitat Effectiveness, and Public Viewing,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 12
, Article 7.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol12/iss3/7