Developing the capacity to predict black bear (Ursus americanus; bear) activity in a diversity of habitats will help conserve bear populations and their habitats and minimize human–bear conflicts. This capacity will be particularly important in areas that provide bear habitat and offer backcountry hiking and camping experiences. Bryce Canyon National Park (BRCA), located on the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah, USA, provides important bear habitat and offers visitors 12 backcountry campsites. To effectively manage these areas to minimize human–bear conflicts, park managers will need better information about black bear use of these campsites and other anthropogenic features in the BRCA. From 2014–2016, we studied the nature and frequency of bear activity within BRCA, with an emphasis on bear–campsite relationships, by analyzing bear activity data using radio-collared bears, remote camera monitoring of areas containing features of interest, campsite assessments, and analysis of human–bear interaction reports. We further assessed and ranked each backcountry campsite regarding its bear habitat quality, bear displacement potential, and human–bear conflict potential. Model selection showed bear preference for campsites and springs and avoidance of trails and roads. During site assessments, we identified a number of modifications to existing campsites that may help minimize human– bear interactions. Foremost among these changes is the relocation of campsites farther off-trail to avoid bears using trails. Specifically, we recommend that campsites be no closer than 200 m to permanent water sources. Finally, while the park requires the use of bear-resistant food containers, we recommend backcountry visitors also be encouraged to carry bear spray.
Larson, Wesley G. and Smith, Tom
"Predicting Black Bear Activity at Backcountry Campsites in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 13
, Article 16.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol13/iss1/16