The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem contains the rare combination of an intact guild of native large carnivores, their prey, and differing land management policies (National Park versus National Forest; no hunting versus hunting). Concurrent field studies on large carnivores allowed us to investigate activities of humans and carnivores on Yellowstone National Park's (YNP) northern boundary. Prior to and during the backcountry big-game hunting season, we monitored movements of grizzly bears (Ursus arctos), wolves (Canis lupus), and cougars (Puma concolor) on the northern boundary of YNP. Daily aerial telemetry locations (September 1999), augmented with weekly telemetry locations (August and October 1999), were obtained for 3 grizzly bears, 7 wolves in 2 groups of 1 pack, and 3 cougars in 1 family group. Grizzly bears were more likely located inside the YNP boundary during the pre-hunt period and north of the boundary once hunting began. The cougar family tended to be found outside YNP during the pre-hunt period and moved inside YNP when hunting began. Wolves did not significantly change their movement patterns during the pre-hunt and hunting periods. Qualitative information on elk (Cervus elaphus) indicated they moved into YNP once hunting started, suggesting that cougars followed living prey or responded to hunting activity, grizzly bears focused on dead prey (e.g., gut piles, crippled elk), and wolves may have taken advantage of both. Measures of association (Jacob's Index) were positive within carnivore species but inconclusive among species. Further collaborative research and the use of new technologies such as Global Positioning System (GPS) telemetry collars will advance our ability to understand these species, the carnivore community and its interactions, and human influences on carnivores.
Additional Publication Details
Large carnivores response to recreational big game hunting along the Yellowstone National Park and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness boundary