Humans have affected grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) by direct mortality, competition for space and resources, and introduction of exotic species. Exotic organisms that have affected grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Area include common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), nonnative clovers (Trifolium spp.), domesticated livestock, bovine brucellosis (Brucella abortus), lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), and white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola). Some bears consume substantial amounts of dandelion and clover. However, these exotic foods provide little digested energy compared to higher-quality bear foods. Domestic livestock are of greater energetic value, but use of this food by bears often leads to conflicts with humans and subsequent increases in bear mortality. Lake trout, blister rust, and brucellosis diminish grizzly bears foods. Lake trout prey on native cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) in Yellowstone Lake; white pine blister rust has the potential to destroy native whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) stands; and management response to bovine brucellosis, a disease found in the Yellowstone bison (Bison bison) and elk (Cervus elaphus), could reduce populations of these 2 species. Exotic species will likely cause more harm than good for Yellowstone grizzly bears. Managers have few options to mitigate or contain the impacts of exotics on Yellowstones grizzly bears. Moreover, their potential negative impacts have only begun to unfold. Exotic species may lead to the loss of substantial highquality grizzly bear foods, including much of the bison, trout, and pine seeds that Yellowstone grizzly bears currently depend upon.
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Effects of exotic species on Yellowstone's grizzly bears