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Hermansson, Pär, 2010. Observations of bears in relation to onset of the early big-game hunting and variations in pine cone production in Gardiner Ranger District, Montana. Second cycle, A1E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Ecology

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Abstract

The early big game hunt in hunting district 316 (HD 316) on the Gardiner Ranger District, south west Montana USA, takes place within the Primary Conservation Area for the Yellowstone grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis). Outside of the hunting season, HD 316 is also a popular area for hiking, horseback riding and camping during the whole bare ground season. The hunting activity has been an object for concern due to increased grizzly bear mortality. The mortality is mainly related to conflicts between hunters and bears (usually grizzlies) and the reason for the conflicts points towards the scattered remains from harvested ungulates. Years when the cone production of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is low have shown an increase in these human-bear conflicts in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA). The purpose of this study is to:

• Investigate if bear observations by backcountry travelers increase in HD 316 at the onset of the early big-game hunting season.
• Investigate if the fluctuations in cone production of whitebark pine affect the amount of bear observations in HD 316

The study is based on information from backcountry travelers interviewed on trails in the eastern part of Gardiner Ranger District where hunting district 316 constitutes the greatest part. The data was collected between May and November (1998-2008). The annual production of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) cones (1998-2008) was compared to the annual proportion of observed bears during hunting season (1998-2008).

More bears, grizzlies and black bears (Ursus americanus) pooled, were seen during the hunting season in HD 316 than before hunting season. There are an inverse correlation between the annual cone production of whitebark pine and the proportions of annual bear observations. Poor cone production years had more bear observations during both hunting season and non-hunting season compared to good cone years, but the difference between the two seasons were greater during good cone production years. When cone production was good, bears were 4,34 times (95% CI: 2,35 - 8,01) more likely to be observed during hunting season compared to non-hunting season. During poor cone years, bears were 3,82 times (95% CI: 2,42 - 6,05) more likely to be observed during hunting season compared to non-hunting season. The corresponding numbers for grizzly showed a significant 7,44 times (95% CI 3,15 – 17,6) and 4,34 times (95% CI 2,56 – 7,37), respectively. The numbers of observed black bears were relatively low, but showed a tendency of more observations during hunting season in both poor and good cone years.

Main title:Observations of bears in relation to onset of the early big-game hunting and variations in pine cone production in Gardiner Ranger District, Montana
Authors:Hermansson, Pär
Supervisor:Hartman, Göran
Examiner:Jansson, Gunnar
Series:Självständigt arbete/Examensarbete / SLU, Institutionen för ekologi
Volume/Sequential designation:2010:6
Year of Publication:2010
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A1E
Student's programme affiliation:None
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Ecology
(S) > Dept. of Ecology
Keywords:Bear observations, Big-game hunting, Cone production, Grizzly bear, Whitebark pine
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-6-264
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-6-264
Subjects:Animal ecology
Language:English
Deposited On:15 Jun 2010 13:57
Metadata Last Modified:20 Apr 2012 14:13

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