Dealing with Grizzly Bears within Yellowstone
Wildlife policy development and implementation are
influenced by interactions among government agencies, non-governmental
organizations, scientists and the general public. The goals for
these organizations are to:
1.) Identify the formal and informal process in
which recent conflicts surfaced in development of grizzly bear
2.) Analyze competing positions on grizzly recovery.
3.) Analyze the relative influence of biophysical,
the value of the grizzly bear, social-structural and institutional-regulatory
forces in shaping those positions.
4.) Identify the lessons from the case history and
make it applicable to recovery policies for all endangered species.
The policy process starts with recognition of a
problem then alternative solutions are developed, appraised; one
is eventually implemented, evaluated and modified. Public attitude
towards grizzlies, as expressed through laws and regulations,
has definitely changes significantly within the last two decades.
US Fish and Wildlife Policy
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife is part of the Department
of Interior and is responsible for managing wildlife programs
and administering federal aid to these programs.
As with most Federal regulations, a species is first proposed
to be listed to the endangered lists (50 CFR Part 17) in the Federal
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s recovery plan for the grizzly
bears of Yellowstone requires a conservation strategy to guide
state and federal agencies in managing and maintaining the bears
to reach recovery and no longer need the help of the Endangered
Forest Service Grizzly Bear Policy
The Forest Service’s role is to manage the habitat
in the National Forests in a way that recovery can be accomplished.
The FS emphasizes actions that contribute to conservation and
recovery of the bear within areas identified in the Grizzly
Bear Recovery Plan. The FS is to manage habitats essential
to bear recovery for multiple land use benefits. Land uses which
conflict with grizzly recovery will be under FS control, and the
land use could be redirected or discontinued entirely. Moving
up the steps to achieve recovery the Forest Service is establishing
and implementing management procedures as followed:
1.) Grizzly bear habitat mapping and cumulative
effects analysis process (a tool for assessing effects of land
The resource management guidelines and grizzly management situations
as established in the "Interagency Grizzly Bear Management
Quantification of recovery objects in Forest Plans including:
(a) the amount of habitat needed for recovery, (b) objectives
to decrease preventable human-caused moralities.
Park Service Grizzly Bear
In 1960, Yellowstone
National Park (YNP) implemented a National
Park Service (NPS) bear management
program (NPS 1960). This program was designed to reduce the number
of bear-caused human injuries, property damage events and to restore
bears in a "natural" state. The Park Service
has identified, within Park boundaries, grizzly habitat requirements.
If necessary the Service will control visitor use and access to
required habitat. Management policies are designed to:
1.) Restore and maintain the natural integrity,
distribution and behavior of bears in the parks.
2.) Provide visitors with knowledge to understand,
observe and appreciate bears. Expand efforts to educate visitors
about bear behavior, methods for reducing bear-human conflicts,
and proper storage of food and garbage.
3.) Provide for visitors safety by minimizing bear/human
conflict by reducing human generated waste (food sources).
4.) Stricter enforcement of regulation prohibits
the feeding of bears.
The use of garbage cans designed to prevent tipping by bears and
development of new bear-proof garbage cans.
6.) The removal of potentially hazardous bears,
habitual beggar bears, and bears that destroy property in search
Management actions for the protection of the grizzly
bear are incorporated into the resource management plan for the
pertinent National Parks. Bear management policy within Yellowstone
(YNP) has progressively intensified efforts to reduce bear-caused
human injuries and property damage and to maintain natural
populations of grizzly bears.
Closing of the Dumps and Sanitation Policy
As early as 1891, the acting Park supervisor reported
that bears had become very bothersome at all hotels, camps, slaughter
houses and other place within the park where human food loomed.
He stated at the time it might be necessary to kill bears occasionally,
if they became destructive. As park visitation and the number
of bear-human conflicts came about, park managers became increasingly
concerned and in 1931 began keeping more detailed records.
These detailed records as well as opinions sparked
a major controversy in 1967, due to the closure of the open pit
dumps which caused 189 grizzly deaths (MacCracken, O’Laughlin,
1998). While the dumps were open, grizzlies would assemble each
night at hotel garbage dumps in and around the park. Theodore
Roosevelt even wrote about watching the bears feast on lettuce
and potato peelings nightly. This activity became entertainment
for many visitors in Yellowstone. However, in the 1960’s the National
Park Service terminated this action and by 1972 all dumps in Yellowstone
Park were "bear proof". This issue became a famous environmental
dispute after this event took place. In response, two noted biologists,
John and Frank Craighead, challenged the Park Service’s decision
to close the dumps. In the 1960’s the Craigheads had suggested
if the dumps were to be closed then it should be done over a period
of time with studies monitoring their status. The Craigheads had
been conducting intensive studies on the grizzly bears between
1951-1971 and knew that these bears had been feeding at the dumps
since the late 1800’s. "What will the bears eat?’ "Will
they return to their instincts and strictly eat what they have
for centuries?" These were some of the questions that were
moving through many scientists as well as park servicemen about
the bears fate. The sudden closing of the dumps proved to be fatal
to some bears. For many grizzlies were destroyed either because
they were invading campgrounds and homes in search of food, or
they died from their own starvation. (Eberhardt) Before the dumps
were closed the last fatal grizzly mauling of a human had happened
in 1942, however one year after the dumps were closed, the first
fatal grizzly mauling in three decades happened due to their previous
habituation and current starvation.
The National Park Service is continuing to erect
poles in the backcountry of Yellowstone Park for backpackers and
hunters so they can raise their meat and supplies beyond a bears
reach. Some backpacker bear-resistant containers and bear-resistant
panniers are also available on loan basis from Forest offices.
It is also standard that the Yellowstone grounds have bear-resistant
garbage containers and food storage boxes to help bears not to
associate campgrounds and lodges as food award areas.
Federal and State personnel cooperatively developed
guidelines for grizzly bear protection and management in the National
Forests, National Parks, and Bureau of Land Management in the
grizzly bear ecosystem in compliance with ESA.
Based on the extensive research and monitoring of Yellowstone
grizzlies, the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan
(1993) set the following population goals:
To have fifteen females with cubs born each year, calculated as
running six-year average, both inside the recovery zone and within
a 10-mile area immediately surrounding it;
To have 16 of 18 Bear Management Units (BMU) occupied by females
with young during each 6 year period and to have no two adjacent
BMU's unoccupied. Occupancy requires verified evidence (sightings
or tracks) of at least one female with young (cub, yearling, or
two-year-old) at least once during the period.
Known human-caused mortality shall not exceed 4% of the minimum
population estimate. In addition, no more than 30% of the known,
human-caused mortality shall be females. This goal must be met
for at least two consecutive years.
Managers and researchers will continue to monitor
the grizzly population for long-term trends. Efforts began in
1995 to prepare a conservation strategy to guide this long-term
management of the grizzly (Gunther, 2000). In the end the ultimate
goal of the Endangered Species Act is
to return the bear to a stable population with adequate habitat
so that it is possible to de-list and return these creatures to
a natural state.
Grizzly Bear Committee
and wildife service recovery plan - pdf download
- pdf download on the yellowstone grizzly