Photo: In 1931, park officials in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) began to document and keep detailed records of human-bear conflict and injury, property damage. A shift in bear management took place, following the tragic death of Martha Hansen. On August 23, 1942 at the Old Faithful Campground, she was walking between her cabin and the outhouse when she was attacked and killed by a bear. Photo Credit: R.Robinson/NPS
In focus: Grizzly #59
Life History: Grizzly #59 was born in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) during 1978. Her lineage is unknown. The Bear Management Office would first incidentally capture #59 on July 24, 1980 near Canyon, YNP as a non-target capture (management). She, however, was still relocated to Shelf Lake, YNP. One year later, the Bear Management Office captured #59, again, in Canyon, YNP for management purposes. She was relocated to Death Ridge, YNP. In 1983, her collar failed. Grizzly 59 was captured again for research purposes by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) on June 16, 1984 at Antelope Creek, YNP. That year, she was observed with two cubs-of-the-year (COY). A little more than a month later, grizzly 59 was captured again, on July 5, 1984 at Antelope Creek, YNP. During 1985, her collar would fail again. In 1985, she was also observed with no offspring, suggesting that she lost her cubs. The following year would mark the beginning of the end for grizzly #59. On September 4, 1986, she was captured in Canyon, YNP and relocated to Cub Creek, YNP for management purposes. She was accompanied by two COY at the time of her relocation. However, after arriving at Cub Creek, grizzly 59 would be observed with no offspring. In 33 days, grizzly #59 would travel westward towards Hayden Valley, YNP where she would meet her demise. On October 7th, 1986, a photographer approached grizzly #59 too closely in Hayden Valley, YNP; the bear attacked and killed the photographer. Grizzly #59 was removed at Otter Creek, YNP for her role in the human-fatality. At the time, this marked the fifth documented fatality in Yellowstone since 1916.
Relocation, Removal and Management Techniques:
The relocation of bears is generally used as a management technique to temporarily resolve bear/human conflict. Relocation in various aspects, has proved to be ineffective.
Specific guidelines have been establish by Yellowstone National Park in determining when relocation is warranted. The decision to relocate a bear must be coordinated and discussed with the Bear Management Committee. Non-target captures or bears unintentionally captured during relocation efforts will be released and not relocated. The following criteria need to be evaluated when deciding to relocate a bear:
Bears may be released or relocated outside of the park with collaboration and consultation with appropriate authorities and agencies. Additionally, bears may also be relocated from outside areas to inside Yellowstone, but only after consultation with appropriate parties.
To enhance the chances of successful relocation, habitat type, foods and food availability, elevation and density of bears in an area are all taken into consideration prior to relocation efforts.
Removal of Nuisance Bears
The guidelines as established for relocation still apply to the removal of nuisance bears. However, procedures for the removal of nuisance bears is, as follows:
Hazing of bears in Yellowstone comes in the form of bear deterrent round, thumper gun projectiles, sling shots, rocks, cracker shells, sirens, horns in an effort to temporarily move bears away from roadsides, human occupied areas, or where there is a bear-related safety concern.
Aversive conditioning is a form of learning which takes place when an animal is punished for an undesirable behavior. The goals of aversive conditioning are the following:
Specific guidelines have been established for when to use aversive conditioning which include:
1.) Gunther, K. A. (1994). Bear management in Yellowstone National Park, 1960-93. Bears: their biology and management, 549-560.
2.) Gunther, K. A. (1994). Yellowstone National Park Bear Management Plan. National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park. pp66.
Tyler Brasington is a native born and raised Pennsylvanian, yet proud current Wisconsin resident. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a B.S. in Environmental Science. Currently, Tyler is pursuing his masters in Natural Resources with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He has worked in Yellowstone National Park under the guidance and supervision of Dr. George Clokey and Dr. Jim Halfpenny.
Disclaimer: The information and views expressed on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Interior, US Geological Survey, National Park Service or the United States Government.
The Greater Yellowstone Grizzly Project
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