CPW Bear Study

Black Bear use of urban environments – testing management strategies to reduce bear-human conflicts and assessing the role of human development on bear behavior and population dynamics

Led by Heather Johnson in collaboration with Chad Bishop, Jerry Apker, John Broderick, Stacy Lischke, Mat Alldredge, Patt Dorsey (all CPW), Stewart Breck (National Wildlife Research Center), Jon Beckmann (Wildlife Conservation Society), Ken Wilson (Colorado State University), and Melissa Reynolds-Hogland (Bear Trust International).

In Colorado conflicts among people and black bears are increasing in frequency and severity, and have become a high priority wildlife management issue. Whether increases in conflicts reflect recent changes in bear population trends or just bear behavioral shifts to anthropogenic food resources, is largely unknown, with key implications for bear management.

This pressing issue initiated a 5-year study on black bears that:

  1. tests management strategies for reducing bear-human conflicts, including a large-scale treatment/control urban-food-removal experiment;
  2. determines the consequences of bear use of urban environments on regional bear population dynamics;
  3. develops population and habitat models to support the sustainable monitoring and management of bears in Colorado; and
  4. examines human attitudes and perceptions related bear-human conflicts and management practices.

To meet the objectives of this project we are collecting fine-scale data in the vicinity of Durango, and are also using bear data available from across the state. This will be one the most comprehensive studies to date on black bear use of urban environments, explicitly linking bear movement patterns and resource-acquisition to population trends, while rigorously testing an array of management techniques. This information will provide solutions for sustainably managing black bears outside urban environments, while reducing bear-human conflicts within urban environments; knowledge that is critical for wildlife managers in Colorado and elsewhere. (updated 5/2012)


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