Yellowstone grizzly bear investigations: Annual report of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, 2004

Annual Report
Edited by: Charles C. SchwartzMark A. Haroldson, and Karrie K. West

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Abstract

The contents of this Annual Report summarize results of monitoring and research from the 2004 field season. The report also contains a summary of nuisance grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) management actions.

The study team continues to work on issues associated with counts of unduplicated females with cubs-of-the-year (COY). These counts are used to establish a minimum population size, which is then used to establish mortality thresholds for the Recovery Plan (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] 1993). A computer program that defines the rule set used by Knight et al. (1995) to differentiate unique family groups was completed in spring 2005. We will use an improved version of this model to verify the accuracy of the rules using known bears and their telemetry locations in test runs. We hope to have this work complete by the end of 2005. 

 The grizzly bear recovery plan (USFWS 1993) established mortality quotas at 4% of the minimum population estimate derived from female with COY data and no more than 30% of the 4% (1.2%) could be female bears. Simulation modeling (Harris 1984) established sustainable mortality at around 6% of the population. We used the latest information on reproduction and survival to estimate population trajectory in the same simulation model originally used by Harris. A Wildlife Monograph has been accepted for publication and should be available by summer 2005. Our project addressing the potential application of stable isotopes and trace elements to quantify consumption rates of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) and cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki) by grizzly bears was completed. Our manuscript on consumption rates of whitebark pine has been published (Canadian Journal of Zoology 81:763-770). The manuscript on fish consumption rates was also accepted and is published in the Canadian Journal of Zoology 82:493-501. Both can be found on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) website http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/research/igbst-home.htm.

We began a new study in Grand Teton National Park evaluating habitat use both temporally and spatially between grizzly and black (Ursus americanus) bears. We will employ a new form of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology that incorporates a spread spectrum communication system. Spread spectrum allows for transfer of stored GPS locations from the collar to a remote receiving station. Results of our first yea r’s field season are summarized in this report. 

Whitebark pine (WBP) has been identified as one of the import ant fall foods of the Yellowstone grizzly bear. Previous efforts to map the distribution of WBP were for the Cumulative Effects Model. Consequently the only coverage of WBP distribution was for the grizzly bear Recovery Zone. We were successful in getting financial support through the U.S. Geological Survey Land Remote Sensing Program and Interdisciplinary Science Support Activities Project to create an ecosystem-wide map of the distribution of WBP. The results of that project are reported in Appendix A. The study team annually estimates WBP cone production on a series of transects. That information is reported annually in our reports. Concern over the long-term health of WBP prompted us to investigate the usefulness of cone counts as an indirect index of WBP health. Results of this analysis (Appendix B) indicated that cone production is too variable to serve this purpose. Consequently, we partnered with several 2 other agencies and embarked on a program to develop a long-term monitoring program directed specifically at WBP health in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Our team (Greater Yellowstone Whitebark Pine Monitoring Working Group) was successful in obtaining funds to develop and implement a WBP health monitoring program. Results of our first years work are presented in Appendix C. We also successfully competed for funds in 2005 and will continue to collect information on WBP health. 

Army cutworm moths (Euxoa auxiliaris) are also a very important food for a segment of the GYE grizzly bear population. Hillary Robison, graduate student at University of Nevada, Reno, is nearing completion of her program. In this report, we post her annual work summary, and abstracts of her most recently submitted publications. These include one on the levels of pesticides in cutworm moths and their potential affect on grizzly bears (Appendix D), a spatial analysis to identify army cutworm moth habitat (Appendix E), and the results of a preliminary analysis of pollen grains on the mouth parts of moths (Appendix F) to help identify which plant species are commonly fed upon. 

Other study team members have also been working on various aspects of grizzly bear science. Study team member Kerry Gunther hosted a workshop on habituated grizzly bears in North America. A copy of the abstract of that report can be found in Appendix G. Additionally, Kerry Gunther and Doug Smith, wolf researcher in Yellowstone National Park (YNP), reported on the interactions between gray wolves (Canis lupus) and female grizzly bears with young. They report that of 15 interactions between these 2 carnivores, 8 involve d females with COY. They observed 2 incidents where cubs were killed by wolves at ungulate carcasses (Appendix H).  
The annual reports of the IGBST summarize annual data collection. Because additional information can be obtained after publication, data summaries are subject to change. For that reason, data analyses and summaries presented in this report supersede all previously published data. The study area and sampling techniques are reported by Blanchard (1985), Mattson et al. (1991 a ), and Haroldson et al. (1998). 

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Yellowstone grizzly bear investigations: Annual report of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, 2004
Series title Annual Report
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description ii, 131 p.
Country United States
State Wyoming
Other Geospatial Yellowstone National Park
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N