CBC post-doctoral fellow Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant has been tracking the movement of black bears in the Western Great Basin of Nevada, U.S. to understand the ecological drivers of their interactions with humans, and how tensions between people and bears can be eased when their habitats overlap.
Over the summer, Dr. Wynn-Grant went back out to her study site to continue this research and successfully trapped and put GPS collars on more bears, this time a 5-year-old, 250 pound male, as well as a 10-year-old female with two young cubs. Both bears were trapped at the urban-wildland interface (where human development meets forest areas). These collars allow Dr. Wynn-Grant and her colleagues to monitor the movements of these animals as they move through a study system that is facing rapid human development. They are especially interested in identifying the location of the mother bear’s den site, to see how the presence of human activity plays a role in den site selection of a bear with cubs.
Preliminary findings show that collared animals are using backcountry areas more and urban areas less than in previous years of the study. Ecological drivers of these trends may be the increased rainfall in 2015 and 2016 after years of drought, allowing an abundance of hard mast to be available in the forest. Anthropogenic influence has also changed in the region, with increased bear safety education participation from local residents, and adoption of bear-proof waste disposal containers.
Learn more about our research on Human Impact on Black Bear Ecology.