Grizzly bear depredation on grazing allotments in the Yellowstone ecosystem

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) conflicts with humans, including livestock depredation on public land grazing allotments, have increased during the last several decades within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) in the western United States as the grizzly bear population has grown in number and occupied range. Minimizing conflicts and improving conservation efficacy requires information on the relationships between livestock depredations, allotment management, grizzly bear habitat conditions, and their interactions. We used generalized linear mixed models to evaluate spatio-temporal relationships between grizzly bear depredation of livestock and the characteristics of 316 United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and National Park Service grazing allotments in the GYE during 1992–2014. We evaluated relationships at 2 spatial extents, representing daily and annual grizzly bear activity areas. During the study period, more grazing allotments became occupied by grizzly bears and most livestock depredations were associated with these areas of population expansion. Number of livestock (beta = 1.15 +/- 0.19 [SE]) and grizzly bear density index (beta = 1.13 +/- 0.10) had the greatest effects on the number of livestock depredation events relative to other allotment attributes. Estimated number of depredation events increased by approximately 20% when cow-calf pairs increased by 100 pairs and grizzly bear density index increased by 1 bear/196 km2 (the average annual home-range size of a female grizzly bear in the GYE). Additionally, grazing allotment size was positively related to the number of depredation events (beta = 0.56 +/- 0.16), whereas the presence of bull cattle or horses was associated with an approximately 50% reduction in depredations (beta = -0.71 +/- 0.37). Livestock depredation events were greater for allotments with lower road density (beta = -0.89 +/- 0.28), less rugged terrain (beta = -0.57 +/- 0.25), higher vegetative primary productivity (beta = 0.33 +/- 0.16), and more whitebark pine coverage (beta = 0.30 +/- 0.15). Relationships between depredations and grizzly bear habitat conditions varied across spatial extents. As the grizzly bear population continues to expand, natural resource managers and livestock producers could focus efforts on allotments with a higher density of grizzly bears, fewer roads, and quality grizzly bear habitat, including higher vegetative productivity, when developing cooperative management plans and preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of depredation. The perspectives gained from our analysis provide context for long-term, landscape-level planning to accommodate livestock production on public lands while meeting conservation goals for grizzly bears.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Grizzly bear depredation on grazing allotments in the Yellowstone ecosystem
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.21618
Volume 83
Issue 3
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher The Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 556
Last page 566
Country United States
State Idaho, Montana, Wyoming