Mad cow policy and management of grizzly bear incidents

Authors

  • Joseph M. Northrup,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta AB T6G-2E9, Canada
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University, 1474 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA.
    • Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta AB T6G-2E9, Canada
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  • Mark S. Boyce

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta AB T6G-2E9, Canada
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  • Associate Editor: Gervais

Abstract

Protection of humans and livestock from disease has been used to justify many aggressive and costly wildlife control programs. Recent regulatory changes on livestock carcass disposal aimed at controlling the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Canada have led to substantial increases in exposed livestock carcass dumps. Such “boneyards” are known to attract grizzly bears (Ursus arctos), which leads to human–bear conflict. We compiled data on human–grizzly bear interactions in an agricultural landscape in southwestern Alberta over a 12-year time period (1999–2010) overlapping regulatory changes. Boneyards increased markedly after regulations were enacted and grizzly bear incidents increased correspondingly, particularly those related to dead livestock. The high rate of conflict results in frequent management captures, relocations, and translocations that create a likely population sink. Although work is underway to reduce human–bear interactions, revisions are needed to recent regulatory changes, such that they take wildlife into account. When combined with programs aimed at ensuring proper storage of attractants, we believe that such policy reforms will make it possible for humans to coexist with grizzly bears in southwestern Alberta. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.

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