Document Sample

                                    A progress report for 1997

                                         Prepared for the

                          Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Steering Committee


                             Michael L. Gibeau 1 and Stephen Herrero 2

This paper contains preliminary results of an on-going study and should not be cited without
                               permission from the authors.

                 Resources and the Environment Program, University of Calgary
                 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta. T2N 1N4 and
                  Parks Canada, Banff National Park, Box 900, Banff, Alberta.
                       Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary
                       2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta. T2N 1N4

                                            April 1998
                                                  TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION ...........................................................................................................................1
     PROJECT BACKGROUND ...............................................................................................1
     PROJECT ORIGINS ...........................................................................................................2
     PROJECT ORGANIZATION AND BUDGET ..................................................................3

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...............................................................................................................4

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES ..........................................................................................................5

STUDY AREA ................................................................................................................................6

METHODS ......................................................................................................................................6

RESULTS ........................................................................................................................................6
     POPULATION STUDIES ...................................................................................................6
              CAPTURE ...............................................................................................................6
              TELEMETRY DATA SET ...................................................................................10
              POPULATION DEMOGRAPHICS.....................................................................11
              POPULATION ESTIMATE.................................................................................15

LITERATURE CITED ..................................................................................................................22
                                                     LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Grizzly bear capture data in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta, 1997 ............................ 7

Table 2. Grizzly bear trapping success in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta, 1997. .................... 8

Table 3. Status of all grizzly bears captured in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta, as of
       December 1997. .................................................................................................................. 8

Table 4. Unduplicated grizzly bear females with cubs of the year in the Bow River Watershed,
       Alberta, 1993 through 1997. ............................................................................................. 11

Table 5. Reproductive status of known female grizzly bears in the Bow River Watershed,
       Alberta, 1997.................................................................................................................... 13

Table 6. Summary of grizzly bear mortalities in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta, 1993
       through 1997. .................................................................................................................... 14

Table 7. Summary of grizzly bear translocations in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta, 1993
       through 1997. .................................................................................................................... 15
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero                      1



Several hundred years ago grizzly bears lived throughout much of what is now the province of
Alberta. Today a historically estimated population of approximately 6000 individuals (Herrero
unpublished data), has decreased to an estimated 600 grizzly bears on provincial land and another
200 within federal national parks (Nagy and Gunson 1990). Grizzly bears have declined in
Alberta because of mortality in excess of recruitment and because people have occupied and
developed land which once supported the bears and less industrialized people.

Grizzly bears are recognized in Alberta as one of the principle species that indicates
wilderness---large scale landscapes in a relatively natural state, the raw material out of which our
culture was, and is still being created. Now, however, the last remaining unprotected wildland
areas in Alberta are being modified by industrial and recreational activity. Because Albertans
value nature and wildlife in addition to economic development, there is an urgent need to
understand the impacts of human-caused mortality and land use on grizzly bears, and to target
mortality rates and habitat protection and management that will allow for grizzly bear
persistence. This direction is supported by the Grizzly Bear Management Plan of Alberta which
states that the provincial population will be increased to 1000 (Nagy and Gunson 1990). It is
also consistent with National Park management objectives for ecological integrity as set by the
National Parks Act and Policy (1988).

On the Eastern Slopes in Alberta grizzly bears occur at relatively low population densities, only
one bear for each 60-100 km2. Male grizzlies have lifetime home ranges of approximately
1000-2000 km 2 (Russell et al. 1979, Carr 1989). Females do not begin breeding until they are
4-7 years old and then they produce significantly less than one cub per year. Because of these
biological characteristics grizzly bears recover slowly if at all from population declines, and only
if negative mortality factors have been brought under control (Mattson et al. 1996). These and
other biological characteristics are part of the reason why human activities can have such a
significant impact on grizzly bears.

Alberta has an expanding economy based significantly on the development of natural resources
such as agriculture, oil and gas, forestry, and nature-based tourism. Individual grizzly bears,
owing to their large home ranges, may come into contact with all of these activities. Research
based in Yoho and Kootenay national parks showed that individual grizzly bears may enter four
different management jurisdictions in a year (Raine and Riddell 1991). Whether land is managed
as parks, commercial forests, or privately, management practices must respond to the grizzlies
needs if these bears are to survive. There is an urgent need for scientific data on grizzly bears to
help land managers better understand the affects of human activities on grizzly bears.
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project    1997 Progress Report     Gibeau & Herrero                  2


The Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project (ESGBP) formally began in May 1994. Neither the
project, nor its membership, were formally designated by any group or agency. The Project and
its members evolved from a number of different origins. An understanding of these helps in
defining the nature of the Project.

First, were changes in legislation and policy at both the Federal and the Provincial levels. In
1988 the Government of Canada amended the National Parks Act. Changes included a
recognition that ecological integrity was the primary objective of national park management. In
this context, the grizzly bear is recognized as one of the most sensitive ecosystem elements,
meaning they are difficult to maintain in landscapes that have a lot of human activities. Where
grizzly bears exist, they are an indicator of ecological integrity. Parks Canada thus had new
reason to be concerned about the status of grizzly bears, especially in national parks such as
Banff which is part of one of the most developed landscapes where grizzly bears still survive.
This legislative change was reflected in a re-written Parks Canada policy document that
recognized the need for multi-agency approaches to parks management. Again, the grizzly bear
with its wide-ranging movements across jurisdictional borders, became a focal species in trying
to address multi-agency dimensions of parks management.

In 1992 the Federal government enacted the Canadain Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)
which broadened the scope of traditional environmental assessment to consider the cumulative
effects of developments at a landscape scale. The following year (1993) the Alberta
Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) passed which also included a provision
for assessing the cumulative impacts of development proposals. The need to consider cumulative
effects in evaluating development proposals has been highlighted in the review of several major
project proposals for the Eastern Slopes of Alberta: the Energy Resources Conservation Board
(ERCB)(now the Energy and Utilities Board - EUB) highlighted the need for cumulative effects
assessment (CEA) in its review of AMOCO’s proposal to drill an exploratory well in the
Whaleback region (ERCB 1994); the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) which was
established to function similarly to the ERCB, but with regard to large, proposed recreational
developments, indicated the need for CEA in its review of the Three Sisters Resort Proposal and
the Westcastle Resort Proposal (NRCB 1993a, 1993b). In all these reviews grizzly bears,
because of their regional movements and ecological relationships, and because of their sensitivity
to development, became a focal species for cumulative effects assessment.

         This section is quoted extensively from Herrero et al. (In Press).
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero                     3

The second major element in the origin of the ESGBP was new information regarding the status
of grizzly bears in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and elsewhere in Alberta. In 1990 the
province of Alberta released its grizzly bear management plan (Nagy and Gunson 1990). This
document clearly showed not only historic declines of grizzly bears in the province, but major
over hunting, especially during 1980-1988. This launched the province into a limited entry
system for managing hunting. It revealed how subject grizzly bear populations are to excessive
mortality, not just from hunting but from all sources. This documented excessive mortality,
combined with rapid expansion in resource harvesting activities in the province, was important in
raising Alberta Fish and Wildlife’s concern for grizzly bears.

In the national parks new information also clearly documented the need for interagency
management of grizzly bears. Research had shown that grizzly bears in the Canadian Rocky
Mountain National Parks moved freely and extensively across park borders and that mortality
outside of park borders was a significant issue (Russell et al. 1979, Raine and Riddell 1991).
Herrero (1995) showed that Canadian National Park grizzly bear populations by themselves were
probably all too small for a high probability of long term persistence, and therefore integrated
management with surrounding provincial or territorial lands would be required. Within the
boundaries of Banff , Yoho and Kootenay National Parks research by Gibeau (In press) showed
that habitat effectiveness was significantly compromised by development. More recent research
documents that grizzly bear populations in Banff Park have suffered exceptionally high mortality
for a national park (Gibeau et al. 1996).

The third factor that led to formation of the ESGBP was growing awareness of the discipline of
conservation biology. This is a discipline with the objective of using scientific information to
help maintain biological diversity. Many of the principles of conservation biology focus on the
design of systems of environmental reserves along ecological boundaries that most often cross
jurisdictional divisions (Noss and Cooperrider 1994). Within conservation biology large-bodied
mammalian carnivores such as the grizzly bear are often used as indicator and umbrella species
(see August 1996 issue of the journal Conservation Biology). By maintaining the large
carnivores we will also maintain a significant degree of terrestrial regional ecological integrity.

The ESGBP was a product of the foregoing series of societal level influences plus many others
that have not been mentioned. Like most projects this one responded to a need perceived by
many different individuals and institutions, sometimes for different reasons. By joining in a
cooperative endeavor and pooling resources a major project was launched.


The ESBGP is an informal association of participants organized into a steering committee whose
objectives are to: 1) review and suggest strategic direction for research and encourage a
research-based understanding of grizzly bear biology and ecology in selected portions of the
Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, 2) help focus research efforts on the
cumulative effects of regional land use and mortality factors on grizzly bears, 3) provide a forum
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero                       4

for various stakeholders to discuss land use planning issues as they relate to grizzly bears, 4) help
secure funding and other forms of agency support, 5) coordinate public outreach initiatives and
6) contribute to the conservation of grizzly bear populations and their habitat in the Eastern

All steering committee participants contribute either money, time or both toward the objectives.
The group, meets about 4 times a year. It has a chair who was elected from a core organizing
group. Membership currently consists of a selection of representatives from various groups that
have either jurisdiction, resource harvest activities or potential, or other interests regarding
occupied grizzly bear habitat in the Eastern Slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. The principal
participants are Parks Canada, the Province of Alberta (Energy and Utilities Board, Fish and
Wildlife Division, Lands and Forest Service, and Kananaskis Country), the University of
Calgary, conservation groups, the oil and gas industry, the forest products industry, the land
development industry and the cattle industry. There are numerous minor supporters as well, but
most do not have direct representation on the Steering Committee.

During meetings research findings and strategic directions are discussed along with budget
needs to further the committees objectives. The group serves as a focal point for fund raising
activities to support the Project. Significant development proposals and activities are discussed
in light of their potential cumulative effects regarding grizzly bears and their habitat.

During the period of 1994-1997 the ESGBP was been successful in raising over $1,450,000 to
support the research. Sources for this funding have been: Parks Canada 46%, oil and gas
industry 34%, Alberta Government 11%, other research grants 4%, forest industry 3%,
conservation groups 1%, and land development industry (Herrero and Herrero 1996).
Contributions to this project are tax deductible because they go to support independent research
by the University of Calgary.


A very successful forth field season would not have been possible without the dedication of field
biologists B. Benn, M. Jalkotzy, C. Mamo, C. Mueller, J. Paczkowski, I. Ross, J. Saher, S.
Stevens, S. Stotyn, and M. Urquhart. Their efforts were augmented through the largely volunteer
support of C. Campbell, P. Hoffer, and M. Morrow. Assistance in coordination of field staff
was provided by A. Dibb, S. Donelon and T. Hurd. Trapping was conducted by R. Leblanc, C.
Mamo, and I. Ross. Veterinary care was provided by Dr. Todd Shury. Several Alberta Fish and
Wildlife Officers, Banff National Park Wardens and Peter Lougheed Park Rangers all provided
invaluable safety backup and field assistance during trapping. The Banff Park Warden Service
and Kananaskis Country Park Rangers provided logistical support through all stages of
monitoring. Exemplary flying skills were provided by Alpine Helicopters of Canmore and fixed
wing pilot M. Dupuis of Westpoint Aviation.

The Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Steering Committee helped implement and guided this research.
All steering committee participants contribute either money, time or both toward the objectives.
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero      5

Through the Steering Committee, governments, industry, business and conservation
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero                  6

groups work together to support this project. The supporters include:

Alberta Conservation Assoc.              Spray Lakes Sawmills
Alberta Provincial Parks                 Alberta Lands and Forest Service
Alberta Fish and Wildlife Service        Alberta Kananaskis Country
Alberta Cattle Commission                Alberta Energy Utilities Board
Alpine Helicopters                       AMOCO Canada Petroleum Co. Ltd.
Calgary Zoological Society               Canadian Assoc. of Petroleum Producers
Bow Valley Naturalists                   Canadian Parks & Wilderness Soc.
Canmore Collegiate High School           Human Resources Canada
Husky Oil                                Parks Canada, BNP & AB Region
Shell Canada Ltd.                        Springbank Middle School
Sking Louise Ltd.                        Three Sisters Resorts Inc.
University Of Calgary              World Wildlife Fund Canada
Warner Guiding and Outfitting Ltd.       Wilderness Medical Society


Prior to the ESGBP, little research has focused on the effects of non-motorized tourism oriented
activities on bears. One of our principle research questions is how do grizzly bear's spatial and
temporal use patterns differ in areas of high human presence compared to areas with low human
presence in a landscape, some of which is dominated by tourism activities? Our situation is
unique in that few other grizzly bear study areas in North America have both a high volume
transcontentinal highway and railway bisecting occupied grizzly bear habitat along with intensive
tourism. Analysis has never been done on the effects of such levels of human presence on
grizzly bears. One important question is the extent to which the Bow River Valley continues to
function as a major movement corridor for bears providing connectivity between habitats.
Unregulated human access and development within bear habitat can contribute to increased bear
mortality and affect grizzly bear use of existing habitat.

The overall goal of this research is to understand how developments and human-induced
mortality impact grizzly bears. Specific research objectives include:
1.     Determine the basic demographic parameters for the grizzly bear population within the
       study area.
2.     Detect spatial and temporal activity patterns of bears given various levels of human
3.     Determine how the distribution of human influences affects a bear's ability to use the
4.     Determine if population connectivity is being impeded by major transportation corridors.
5.     Determine what, if any adjustments to human activities would give bears better access to
6.     Suggest management alternatives for integrating land uses compatible with bear habitat
       needs for the study area.
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero                   7


The area of interest remains unchanged from year 1 with the Bow River Watershed, from its
headwaters to approximately where it meets the prairies, as the core study area. The Bow River
drainage system is approximately 11,400 km2. The greater study area defined by the movement
of radio-collared bears is about 22,000 km2 or roughly twice the size of the core study area.


Methods for both the capture and monitoring of bears remain unchanged from the detailed
description found in the year 1 progress report (Gibeau and Herrero 1995). Approximately 25
grizzly bears per year have active radio-collars. These bears are monitored from air and ground
wherever they go and our budget permits. Aerial monitoring gives infrequent, but relatively
unbiased data regarding location. This facilitates understanding of home range, movements and
habitat use. Ground-based research allows intensive monitoring of grizzly bear activities related
to development features such as towns, highways, campgrounds and trails. Mortality is
monitored using both aerial and ground-based telemetry, and by accessing and creating broader
mortality data bases related to hunting and other human-induced mortality sources. The
radio-telemetry monitoring area includes lands under several different jurisdictions. In the
British Columbia portion of these lands, where some of our radio-collared grizzly bears are
found, there is a Western Slopes Bear Research Project (Woods pers. comm.) which provides
complementary data and will allow a broader ecosystem versus provincial boundary-based
understanding of grizzly bears in what has been called the Central Rockies Ecosystem (Komex
International 1995).




In 1997 emphasis was placed on recapturing bears whose transmitters were due for replacement.
We recaptured six previously captured bears as well as 12 new bears (Table 1). Trap success was
high averaging 7.2 site nights per capture (Table 2).

Since the Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project began in May of 1994, we have captured 25 male
and 28 female grizzly bears. Currently, 26 bears are radio-instrumented including 8 males, 18
females (Table 3). Of the remainder, 10 bears have died, 14 have dropped collars or stopped
transmitting, 1 was removed from the system, and 2 were never collared initially.
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report       Gibeau & Herrero             8

Table 1. Grizzly bear capture data in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta, 1997.

     ID         Sex         Age       Weight            Area                   Comments
                          Estimate     (kg)
     10          M           16a*     170 est.      Bow Valley                  recapture
     13          M            8a        122.        Kananaskis                  recapture
     15          M            9a      150 est.       Cascade R.                 recapture
     30           F          12a         80         Lake Louise                 recapture
     35           F           5a         86         Kananaskis                  recapture
     42          M            9a        116           Spray R.                  recapture
     51          M            8a        147          Baker Cr.
     52          M            7b      135 est.     Highwood R.
     53          M            3a         80        Highwood R.
     54          M           15a        190             Banff
     55           F           6a         98          Cascade R.
     56           F           3a         44         Lake Louise             cub of Bear #30
     57           F           5a      130 est.     Highwood R.
     58          M            9a      190 est.       Cascade R.
     59           F           3a         39         Lake Louise             cub of Bear #30
     60           F           3a         46         Lake Louise             cub of Bear #30
     61           F          12a        103           Spray R.
     62           F           8a        103          Cascade R.

* certainty code a= +/- 0 years, b= +/- 1-2 years, c= +/- 2-3 years
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project       1997 Progress Report         Gibeau & Herrero                     9

Table 2. Grizzly bear trapping success in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta, 1997.

            Area             Total Site         Total            Total            Total     Site Nights /
                              Nights           Grizzly           Black           Captures     Capture
    Mid Bow R.                   15               1               0                 1           15.0
    Kananaskis                   65               2               5                 7           9.3
    Spray R.                     49               4               4                 8           6.1
    Cascade R.                   13               4               0                 4           3.3
    Lake Louise                  25               5               1                 6           4.2
    Highwood R.                  22               3               1                 4           5.5
                                189              18a              11               29           7.2

    14 snare captures, 3 culvert trap captures and 1 free roaming

Table 3. Status of all grizzly bears captured in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta, as of
December 1997.

       ID          Sex    Age at 1st      Date 1st                Current status              No of radio
                           capture        captured                                            relocations
       10          M        13 a*         05/07/94                      active                     290
       11          M          4b          05/17/94       unknown - drop collar 07/97               49
       12          M         13 b         05/19/94               dead - 10/04/94                   14
       13          M          5a          05/25/94                      active                     363
       14          M          9a          05/29/94          active - no signal 05/97               49
       15          M          6a          05/20/94                      active                     225
       16          M          5a          08/16/93         removed to zoo 07/05/96                 169
       17          F         10 a         06/02/94       unknown - drop collar 07/96               103
       18          F          6a          05/30/94                      active                     84
       19          M          6b          05/13/94               dead - 05/14/94                      1
       20          M         11 a         05/14/94       unknown - drop collar 08/94                  8
       21          M          3a          05/21/94               dead - 07/26/95                      3
       22          M         14 a         05/21/94               dead - 05/28/94                      2
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project    1997 Progress Report      Gibeau & Herrero             10

     23          M            3a       05/28/94               dead - 08/08/96           75

     ID         Sex       Age at 1st   Date 1st               Current status        No of radio
                           capture     captured                                     relocations
     24           F           5a       05/31/94                   active               373
     25          M            6a       05/31/94       unknown - drop collar 09/94       15
     26           F          18 a      06/08/94                   active               345
     27           F           2a       06/13/94        unknown - no signal 04/96        35
     28           F          22 a      06/08/94               dead - 08/24/96           72
     29          M            2a       06/13/94        unknown - never collared         1
     30           F           9a       09/28/94                   active               751
     31           F           7c       06/25/94       unknown - drop collar 05/96      120
     32           F          13 b      06/04/94       unknown - drop collar 10/97      156
     33           F          19 a      06/14/94                   active               219
     34          M            6a       05/17/95        unknown - no signal 05/97        54
     35           F           4a       05/17/96               dead - 09/20/97          186
     36           F           8a       06/23/93                   active               192
     37           F          10 a      06/27/94                   active               228
     38          M            1a       06/27/94        unknown - never collared         8
     39           F           3a       05/10/95        unknown - no signal 08/96       105
     40           F          15c       05/15/95                   active               296
     41           F          12a       05/28/95                   active                54
     42          M            7a       05/30/95                   active                38
     43          M            5a       05/24/96               dead - 10/10/96           11
     44          M            4a       06/13/95               dead - 08/23/96           27
     45          M            1a       06/15/95          active - no signal 05/97       2
     46           F          11a       06/15/95                   active               202
     47           F           9a       06/02/96                   active               137
     48           F           2a       06/02/96        unknown - no signal 09/97        14
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project    1997 Progress Report      Gibeau & Herrero             11

     49          M            2a       06/02/96        unknown - no signal 08/97        17

     ID         Sex       Age at 1st   Date 1st               Current status        No of radio
                           capture     captured                                     relocations
     50          M            4a       06/17/96        unknown - no signal 06/96        2

     51          M            8a       05/23/97                   active                16

     52          M            7b       05/16/97                   active                15

     53          M            3a       05/15/97                   active                23

     54          M           15a       06/03/97                   active                26

     55           F           6a       06/07/97                   active                12

     56           F           3a       05/28/97                   active                4

     57           F           5a       05/17/97                   active                17

     58          M            9a       06/08/97               dead - 09/23/97           5

     59           F           3a       05/28/97                   active                4

     60           F           3a       05/28/97                   active                4

     61           F          12a       06/11/97                   active                72

     62           F           8a       06/12/97                   active                22

* certainty code a= +/- 0 years, b= +/- 1-2 years, c= +/- 2-3 years


Aerial and ground monitoring from the mid-March until the first week of December produced
1571 point locations for the 1997 field season. Of these 404 (25%) were from the air and 1167
(75%) from ground monitoring. Aerial locations were biased toward early morning hours. One
hundred and seventy eight aerial locations were visual observations. Sightability was higher
from the air (44%) than from the ground (9%). Table 3 outlines the number of telemetry points
for each individual from project initiation to December 1997.
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report       Gibeau & Herrero               12


Observations from the research team as well as records from Banff National Park, Kananaskis
Country Rangers and Alberta Fish and Wildlife Services established a minimum unduplicated
count of 2 females with cubs of the year for 1997 in the study area (Table 4). No radio-collared
females had cubs of the year during 1997. Over time, a minimum count of sows with cubs can
be established and used as a trend indicator (Knight et al. 1995).

Table 4. Unduplicated grizzly bear females with cubs of the year in the Bow River Watershed,
Alberta, 1993 through 1997.

          Family                  Most Cubs                    Location                # of
       Identification             Observed                                          Sightings
          A - 1993                    1                      Bryant Creek              2
          B - 1993                    2                      Fatigue Creek             1
          C - 1993                    2                      Moraine Lake              1
          D - 1993                    2                      Cascade River             1
          E - 1993                    2             Elbow R. / Nahahi Ridge            3
          F - 1993                    2                 Kananaskis Lakes               4
          A - 1994                    2               Lower Cascade River              1
          B - 1994                    1              Moose Mtn. / Elbow R.             2
          C - 1994                    2                 Mt. Indefatigable              4
          D - 1994                    1              Bryant Cr. / Mt. Nestor           2
       Bear #28 1994                  1               Upper Cascade River              2
       Bear #30 1994                  3             Baker Lake / Pipestone R.          5
       Bear #36 1994                  1                 Upper Bow River                2
          A - 1995                    2           West Bragg Cr / Powderface           3
          B - 1995                    2             Skogan Pass / Wasootch             3
          C - 1995                    2              Upper Spray / Albert R.           3
       Bear #17 1995                  1                      Cascade River             13
       Bear #18 1995                  3              Bryant Cr. / Assiniboine          10
       Bear #26 1995                  2             Nakiska / Evans Thomas             6
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report      Gibeau & Herrero                13

       Bear #31 1995                  2                  Highwood River                 3

          Family                  Most Cubs                   Location                 # of
       Identification             Observed                                          Sightings
       Bear #32 1995                  3             Forty Mile Cr. / Elk Lake          12
       Bear #33 1995                  3            Cascade River / Stoney Cr.          14
          A - 1996                    1            Cascade R. / Grassy Ridge            1
          B - 1996                    3                  Mid Spray River                1
       Bear #24 1996                  2                  Highwood Pass                 25
       Bear #36 1996                  2                 Upper Bow River                 8
       Bear #37 1996                  2               Elbow / Sheep Rivers              3

          A - 1997                    2                      Wind Valley                2

          B - 1997                    3                      Elbow Lakes                2

Reproductive success of radio collared females was determined through visual observation
during the spring and summer of 1997 (Table 5). Reproductive data from collared females will
eventually be used to construct an estimate of whether the sample population is increasing or
decreasing. Before this can be done, data on at least 100 female reproductive years will be
needed. Cub mortalities for the year are recorded in the comments. Year to year cub
survivorship can be tracked by referring to tables from previous years and the reproductive status
of any given female.
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project     1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero                     14

Table 5. Reproductive status of known female grizzly bears in the Bow River Watershed,
Alberta, 1997.

          Bear                           # of Cubs                           Comments
            18                        2 two year olds
            24                          2 yearlings
            26                                0                           1 yearling in 96
            30                        3 three year olds             family still together in Nov.
            32                        3 two year olds                family broke up early June
            33                        2 two year olds                family broke up early June
            35                                0                             died Sept 97
            36                           1 yearling
            37                           1 yearling                      2 yoy in fall of 96
            40                                0
            41                                0
            46                        2 three year olds             family still together in Nov.
            47                        2 three year olds             family broke up end of May
            48                                0                               subadult
            55                                0                             new capture
            56                                0                      3 year old cub of bear #30
            57                                0                             new capture
            59                                0                      3 year old cub of bear #30
            60                                0                      3 year old cub of bear #30
            61                                0                             new capture
            62                                0                             new capture
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project    1997 Progress Report      Gibeau & Herrero                    15

There were 3 known mortalities within the study area in 1997 (Table 6). One was an unmarked
bear that was found many months after death, while the other 2 were radio collared study bears.

Table 6. Summary of grizzly bear mortalities in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta, 1993 through

       Bear                 Date                   Location            Sex            Age      Kill
    Identification                                                                             Type
    AFWS #21055a           08/19/93           West Spray-408b           M              3       PWc
    Research #19           05/13/94            Kananaskis-648           M              6       AC
    Research #22           05/28/94            Albert R.-B.C.           M             14       LH
    AFWS #25161            09/29/94            Fortress Mt-408          M           Subadult    IL
    Research #12           10/04/94           Simpson R.-B.C.           M             13       SD
    Research #21           07/26/95             Elkford B.C.            M              4       PW
    AFWS #25722            08/20/95            Sarcee Reserve           M            unkn       TI
    investigate            fall 95             3 Point Cr.-406          ?            unkn       IL
    BNP L952104            09/25/95              Lake Louise            F            adult     PW
    BNP L952104            09/25/95              Lake Louise            F             yly      PW
    AFWS #34990            06/04/96                Morley               M            adult      TI
    Research #44           08/23/96            Stoney Reserve           M              5        TI
    Research #28           08/24/96             Cascade River           F             24       NA
    Research #23           08/08/96              James River            M              5       PW
    Research #43           10/10/96             Grease Creek            M              5        IL

    BNP97-1567             fall 1996             Spray Lake             ?           Subadult    ?

    Research #35           09/20/97           Evan Thomas Cr.           F              5       SD?

    Research #58           09/23/97              James River            M              9       PW

  Registration or file number
  Wildlife Management Unit
  PW=problem wildlife, AC=accidental, LH=legal hunter, SD=self defense, NA=natural,
TI=treaty Indian, IL=Illegal
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project     1997 Progress Report        Gibeau & Herrero                 16

Translocations accounted for removal of 1 bear from the study area in 1997 (Table 7). This bear
was removed as a result of human food conditioning and associated public safety concerns.
Shortly after translocation the bear began frequenting a campground in Jasper National Park and
was subsequently destroyed.

Table 7. Summary of grizzly bear translocations in the Bow River Watershed, Alberta, 1993
through 1997.

       Bear                   Date                 Translocation                       Sex     Age
                                                From           To
    AFWS #407801a            09/04/93         Canmore-410b Owl Crk-339                 M     Subadult
    Research #23             10/21/94         Sundre-318 Mitsue-350                    M        3
    B.C. GF75                09/26/95         Lake Louise Kinbasket L                  F     9 & 1yly
    Research #50             06/17/96         Canmore-410 Highwood-404                 M        4
    Research #16             07/05/96          Banff      Calgary Zoo                  M        8

    AFWS#                    0729/97          PLPP-648 Nordegg - 428                   M     Subadult

Occurance number
Wildlife Management Unit


Mike Proctor undertook the analysis and reporting of our 1996 DNA hair sampling for
population estimation. His report follows:

In an effort to estimate the density of grizzly bears in the East Slopes study area a DNA-based
population estimate was undertaken in 1996. Details of this effort may be found in Sherry
(1996) and entailed using microsatellite genotyping of individual bears as “marks” in a mark-
recapture population estimate. Radio-collared bears, with known genotypes and known to be in
the DNA study area, were considered marked animals and DNA sampling sessions were
undertaken in an attempt to “recapture” these animals. Individual genotypes were generated from
hair collected at remote sampling stations using barbed wire. During June and July 1996, the
East Slopes team systematically collected bear hairs at 40 sampling stations over 4000km2
(2000km2 north of Hwy 1 in Banff National Park and 2000 km2 south of Hwy 1 in Kananaskis
Country). Sampling stations were set 1 per cell (1 cell = 10km x 10km). Three consecutive
sampling sessions were run for approximately 10 days each and the hair trap sites were moved
each session within each cell. In 1296 active days of sampling 250 samples were collected of
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero                  17

which 75 were grizzly bear. Fifty of these samples produced a usable DNA genotype identifying
15 different grizzlies. Twelve of these bears were new individuals and 3 were known as radio-
collared bears. Of the 15 “DNA captured “ bears 5 were male, 5 female and 5 undetermined sex.
 Dr. Curtis Strobeck’s population genetics laboratory at the University of Alberta carried out the
DNA analysis. While data was too sparse to generate a reliable precise estimate, a density of 1.4
 grizzly bears/100 km2 was estimated based on Program NOREMARK (White 1995).

One of the biggest problems in mark-recapture experiments applied to bear studies is most
population estimators require the assumption of closure during the sampling. Meeting this
assumption is difficult because bears have relatively large movement patterns and will move in
and out of the sampling area. Important in any mark-recapture effort is that animals have an
equal probability of being captured and recaptured in subsequent sampling sessions. When a
“marked” individual leaves the area during one of the sessions, it has no chance of being
recaptured, thus introducing a positive bias or an overestimate of the population. This is because
the estimators use the ratio of marked to unmarked animals caught in any session as the basis for
the population estimate.

The use of radio-telemetry has potential to compensate for this lack of closure. Several methods
have been described in the literature (Eberhardt 1990, Garshelis 1992, Miller et al. 1997). These
methods require larger sample sizes than attained in this effort in the number of bears marked
and recaptured. One estimator, the joint hypergeometric estimator (JHE) within program
NOREMARK, is designed to incorporate telemetry data to compensate for lack of geographic
closure. The JHE is a maximum likelihood estimator designed for mark - resight population
estimates. A number of animals are “marked", released, and several “resight” sessions follow.
In the East Slopes case, the “marked” animals are the radio-collared animals known to be in the
sampling area during each of 3 “resight” sessions. The subsequent hair-DNA capture sessions
constitute these “resight” sessions.

The value of using the radio-collared bears for the marked sample is that only those bears known
to be in the sampling area during each of 3 sessions are counted as the marked sample. This
greatly reduces the positive bias associated with “edge effects” due to closure violations as only
those marked animals available for resight are included in the calculations of the population
estimate. Each of the 3 DNA sampling sessions has a set of marked animals even though the 3
sets may contain different combinations of radio-collared animals.

While 16 radio-collared bears frequented the area during this period, radio-locations determined
that 12 individuals were in the sampling area during sessions 1 and 2, and 11 during session 3.
The DNA “capture” results are summarized in Table 1. The NOREMARK population estimate
is 57 animals in the 4000 km2 area which is a density of 1.4 bears per 100 km2. (Table 2).
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project        1997 Progress Report       Gibeau & Herrero                       18

Table 1. Summary of grizzly bear hair-DNA captures for 1996.

                 Radio-Collared                      Marked                      Unmarked
Session            available                         captured                    captured
1                       12                           0                           2

2                         12                         0                           2

3                         11                         3                           9

Program CAPTURE, an alternative method of estimating population and density was also used.
Program CAPTURE has similar closure assumptions but no direct method of compensation for
closure violations. Compensatory methods exist but require larger sample sizes to be effective
(see comments above). Program Capture is a set of sophisticated population estimators designed
to uncover violations of equal catchability assumptions, again requiring sufficient data not
attained in this study. It was necessary to group the East Slopes data into 2 sessions with the
radio-collared individuals as the marked animals in session 1 and all 3 DNA collections grouped
together as session 2. To then adjust Program CAPTURE’s estimate for closure, the estimate
was multiplied by the proportion of time the radio-collared animals spent in the study area over
the collection period. This naive telemetry-adjusted estimate yields 46 animals with a density of
1.2 animals per 100 km2. (Table 2)

Table 2. Population and density estimates for the East Slopes 1996 grizzly bear population.

                                      Estimate                         95% CI                      90%CI
NOREMARK population                   57                               29 - 201                    31 -156

NOREMARK density 1.4 / 100 km2                       0.7 - 5.0 / 100 km2                 0.8 - 9/100 km2

CAPTURE (Mt Chao1)                    67                               40 - 154

Telemetry adjusted                    46                               28 - 106
CAPTURE ( x 0.69)

Adjusted density                                                  1.2 /100 km2       0.7 - 2.7/100 km2
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero                    19

1 Mt Chao is one of 10 population estimator models within program CAPTURE. Data was too
insufficient for proper model selection within the program. Mt Chao was chosen subjectively as
it is the simpler Lincoln-Petersen estimator adjusted by Chao (1989) for sparse data sets (see
Boulanger 1997a)

Several considerations are important when interpreting these results. First, is that the number of
hair-DNA captures and resights was too low to inspire confidence in the estimates. The lack of
precision is primarily due to low capture and recapture rates. Only 3 radio-collared bears were
DNA captured in all 3 resight sessions. Sessions 1 and 2 caught only 2 bears each. These sparse
data yield confidence limits of 300% to 400%. While the biological significance of these limits
may be questionable, they indicate that to generate reliable results more captures and resights are

For a reasonably precise result White (1980) recommends:
a capture probability p = 0.3         for populations under 100
                              p = 0.4 or 0.5         for populations near 50
                              p = 0.2        for populations over 200.

This study realized a capture probability of 0.22 with an estimated population of approximately
50. The particularly low capture rates in Sessions 1 and 2 may have been due to unusually cold
weather and therefore less attractive bait, as well as public safety constraints in placement of
sample station locations may have contributed to the low result.

Closure violations generally result in overestimates, large variation in capture probabilities and
imprecise estimates. While this effort used radio-collared bears to compensate for lack of
closure, several problems remained unsolved. Do radio-collared bears visit hair traps with the
same frequency as non radio-collared animals? In 1296 trap nights only 3 radio-collared animals
were captured. While data is too sparse to adequately address this question, Boulanger (1997b)
looked at a similar problem in the 1996 West Slopes Bear Research Project's data where only 2
radio collared bears were DNA capture in 2653 trap nights. Boulanger concluded preliminarily
that it is likely that capture probabilities of radio-collared bears is lower than non collared
animals and that more definitive answers require better data potentially supplied by West Slope's
1997 data. If radio-collared animals do indeed have a lower capture probability than non collared
animals then the resight numbers would be low, resulting in an overestimate of the population.

Considering the program CAPTURE telemetry adjustment, using the radio-collared bears to
estimate the proportion of time all bears spend in the study area is also problematic. Consider
when 2 radio locations of 1 animal are separated by 7 days and the animal is located within the
area but near the edge, the assumption is made that the bear was in the study area for the entire 7
days but it is possible that the animal left the area for some amount of time during this interval.
The opposite is true for an edge bear found outside of the study area on 2 consecutive locations.
In the East Slopes case the trapping of radio-collared animals occurred inside and outside of the
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero                  20

DNA study area, diminishing the bias associated with collared animals over-representing the
animals within the DNA study area.

Another concern is that the cell sizes may be too large to provide an equal opportunity for capture
of some female bears with small seasonal home ranges. A test of this problem is being carried
out in the West Slopes 1997 inventory effort. Cell sizes have been reduced to 25 km2 in an area
that was sampled at 64 km2 in 1996. Results comparing the 2 years may indicate how much of a
problem large cell sizes posed for the 1996 efforts in the East and West Slopes DNA inventories.

Furthermore, the habitat of the DNA sampling area is high quality for bears so extrapolation of
densities must consider variations in habitat quality across the ecosystem.


The most important limitation of the DNA based population estimate is the low sample sizes.
An estimate based on 3 resights of radio-collared animals should be considered unreliable.

While the use of radio telemetry holds great promise as a tool used in conjunction with DNA
sampling, many questions remain unanswered. As many varied DNA-based grizzly bear
inventories are being carried out in BC in 1996 and 1997, answers may be found within several

The East Slopes has a valuable bank of microsatellite genotyped individual grizzly bears. With
the trapped radio-collared bears in the larger East Slope's ecosystem and the DNA bears of 1996,
approximately 74 bears have been identified. This genetic data will contribute to planned future
work looking at the grizzly bear meta-population in SW Alberta and SE British Columbia,
helping identify dispersal and gene flow patterns, population fragmentation, and linkage


Boulanger, J. 1997a. DNA mark-recapture methods for inventory of grizzly bear populations in
       British Columbia: Elk Valley (1996) case study. Ministry of Environment, Lands, and
       Parks, Wildlife Research Branch, Victoria, BC. 21 pp.
Boulanger, J. 1997b Preliminary report: Inference from bears radio-collared during the West
       Slopes 1996 DNA mark-recapture inventory project. West Slopes Bear Research Project.
       Revelstoke, BC.
Eberhardt, L. L. 1990. Mark recapture estimation for mark-recapture studies with edge effects.
       Journal of Applied Ecology, 27:259-271.

Garshelis, D. L. 1992. Mark recapture estimation for animals with large home ranges. In Wildlife
       2001: Populations (eds D. R. McMullough and R. H. Barret), pp1098-1109. Elsevier,
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project     1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero                    21

        New York.
Miller, S.D., G.C. White, R.A. Sellers, H.V. Reynolds, J.W. Schoen, K. Titus, V.G.J. Barnes,
        R.B. Smith, R.R. Nelson, W.W. Ballard and C.C. Brown. 1997. Brown and black bear
        density estimation in Alaska using radiotelemetry and replicated mark-resight techniques.
        Wildlife Monograph No. 133. 55 pp.
Sherry, E. E. 1996. An Analysis of Methodologies for assessing Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos
        horribilis) population. M.Sc. Thesis University of Kent. Canterbury. 155 pp.
White, G. C. 1995. Program NOREMARK Software Reference manual. Colorado State
        University. Fort Collins. 31 pp.


Population estimation is a complex enough subject that we felt a critique of Mike Proctor’s work
was necessary. That report follows:

Review by John Boulanger, Integrated Ecological Research, Box 5360, Squamish BC. (604-

The analysis of the East Slopes estimates by Mike Proctor provides a good coverage of issues
concerning this data set and potential problems with population estimates.

I agree with Mike that the estimate of population size for the East Slopes is not completely reliable
primarily because of low sample sizes and issues concerning the trappability of radio collared bears.

Two methods of estimation using CAPTURE (Otis et al., 1978) and NOREMARK (White, 1996)
were proposed by Mike Proctor for population estimates. I will comment about the East Slopes
estimates using these two methods in terms of the three primary design issues (White et al., 1982).

  1) Closure:
    a) DNA/CAPTURE estimate:
       The frequency of occasions in which radio collared bears were in and out of the trapping area
       was used to adjust the estimate for closure bias (by .69). This adjustment factor of .69 is also
       an estimate based on assumptions (as Mike Proctor outlined) regarding the movement pattern
       of radio collared bears. Therefore, this adjustment factor also has a variance. I attempted
       to use a bootstrap technique to get at the potential variance of the adjustment factor with the
       West Slopes 1996 data and found the confidence interval on the West Slopes correction
       factor estimate of 73% to be 55.23% and 90.92%. Given that sample sizes were about equal
       between the East Slopes and West Slopes we can expect a similar confidence interval width.
       Therefore, the utility of this correction factor is not great given that the population estimate
       also has a large confidence interval width.

     John Boulanger, Integrated Ecological Research                                11/16/98
Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project     1997 Progress Report    Gibeau & Herrero                     22

         Also, this adjustment factor only accounts for the geographic bias caused by the grid
         sampling a larger area due to edge effects. It does not account for capture probability bias
         caused by closure violation.
    b)                   Mark/resight estimate.
         This technique uses the radio collared bears as the primary sample unit. Closure bias can be
         more exactly corrected because it is known whether these bears are in or out of the study area
         during the recapture process. Furthermore, the correction accounts more directly for capture
         probability bias due to closure violation because the capture frequencies of radioed bears are
         adjusted each sample session based on whether they were in or out of the grid. Therefore this
         method is superior to the DNA capture method.

  2) Sample size: Both methods are compromised by low sample size. As a result the confidence
   intervals are quite large. In addition, it is not possible to discern potential capture probability
   variation. A value of using mark-recapture as opposed to census based methods is that an
   estimate of uncertainty can be calculated (confidence interval). While this may not give the most
   favorable results it is still better than blindly trusting a census or count estimate which has no
   estimate of confidence.
   3) Capture probability variation. Low sample sizes made it difficult to determine if there is
    capture probability variation in this data set. Some general comments.
    a) As mentioned by Mike Proctor, there is some concern that radio collared bears may show
       lower probabilities of capture then other bears and therefore estimates using radio collared
       bears may show a positive bias.
    b) I pose the following questions: Can it be assumed that the radio collared bears are a random
       sample of the population of DNA bears?. Can it be assumed that the radio collaring efforts
       that produced the first radio sample targeted the same population as the DNA census? In
       terms of each method of estimation the following problems are possible if this assumption
       is not met:
         i) CAPTURE-Program capture assumes you are sampling a closed population. The best
            analogy is a ball and urn used in the lottery in which each ball is a bear. Balls or bears
            can have variable capture probabilities with capture but it is assumed that they are all
            present in the urn. If there is a different urn, or different population was being sampled
             when bears were radio collared then it is invalid to use the radio collared bears as a first
            mark and DNA bears as a second mark.
         ii) NOREMARK-The assumptions outlined above for program CAPTURE are relaxed. It
             is assumed that after collaring the radio collared bears intermix with the non-radio
             collared bears so at the time of sampling they are a random sample (in terms of spatial
             distribution, demographics etc) of the targeted DNA census population. This is why
             Miller et al.,(1997.) recommends that mark-resight censuses for bears up north occur at

     John Boulanger, Integrated Ecological Research                                  11/16/98
  Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report    Gibeau & Herrero                   23

               least a few months after the bears are radio marked. It seems like this assumption would
               be met in the case of the East Slopes.
  Given the above outlined points I recommend that the NOREMARK estimate be used for the
  population estimate of the East Slopes. The large confidence interval width on this estimate should
  be emphasized.

  In conclusion, the report provided by Mike Proctor does an excellent job of covering the bases in
  terms of mark-recapture issues and possible analysis techniques. It should provide a valuable
  interpretation of the results of the East Slopes mark-recapture effort.


  Miller, S. D., White, G. C., Sellers, R. A., Reynolds, H. V., Schoen, J. W., Titus, K., Barnes, V.
       G. J., Smith, R. B., Nelson, R. R., Ballard, W. W. & C.C., S. (1997.). Brown and black bear
       density estimation in Alaska using radiotelemetry and replicated mark+resight techniques.
       Wildl. Monogr. No. 133., 55pp.
  Otis, D. L., Burnham, K. P., White, G. C. & Anderson, D. R. (1978). Statistical inference from
        capture data on closed animal populations. Wildlife Monographs 62, 1-135.
  White, G. C. (1996). NOREMARK: Population estimation from mark-resighting surveys.
      Wildlife Society Bulletin 24, 50-52.
  White, G. C., Anderson, D. R., Burnham, K. P. & Otis, D. L. (1982). Capture-recapture and
      removal methods for sampling closed populations. Los Alamos National Laboratory .


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Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project   1997 Progress Report   Gibeau & Herrero                   24

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