Agricultural lands as ecological traps for grizzly bears



Joseph M. Northrup. Current address: Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University, 1474 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.



Human–carnivore conflicts on agricultural lands are a global conservation issue affecting carnivore population viability, and human safety and livelihoods. Locations of conflicts are influenced by both human presence and carnivore habitat selection, although these two aspects of conflict rarely have been examined concurrently. Advances in animal tracking have facilitated examination of carnivore habitat selection and movements affording new opportunities to understand spatial patterns of conflict. We reviewed 10 years of data on conflicts between grizzly bears and humans in southwestern Alberta, Canada. We used logistic regression models in a geographic information system to map the probability of bear–human conflict from these data, and the relative probability of grizzly bear habitat selection based on global positioning system radiotelemetry data. We overlaid these maps to identify ecological traps, as well as areas of secure habitat. The majority of the landscape was seldom selected by bears, followed by ecological traps where most conflicts occurred. Only a small portion of the landscape was identified as secure habitat. Such mapping methods can be used to identify areas where conflict reduction strategies have the greatest potential to be effective. Our results highlight the need for comprehensive management to reduce conflicts and to identify areas where those conflicts are most problematic. These methods will be particularly useful for carnivores known to be in conflict with agriculture, such as large carnivores that prey on livestock, or pose a threat to human safety.