Raincoast Applied Conservation Science Lab has launched a multi-year research project to understand if ecotourism has any effects on bear presence, numbers, and behaviour.
Kate Field, researcher with Raincoast conservation and PhD student at the Applied Conservation Science Lab at the University of Victoria wrote a reflection about her time in the field. “We use a tree stand at our most upstream site – a ‘reference area’ where no human activity occurs. Providing an unobstructed view of some fishing locations, the stand allows us to collect data safely. When a bear arrives on site, we employ focal sampling, where we record, and later code, key behaviours such as vigilance and foraging. At all our sites, focal samples will allow us to estimate the proportion of time bears spend selecting key behaviours.
We anticipate more research seasons living among bears and dedicated to reading their cues. Long-term conservation outcomes can in some cases be predicted early by subtle behavioural changes that, if detected, provide managers with an opportunity to intervene before population-level changes occur. This research will seek to inform management as it relates to human activity in the park, and empirically advance our understanding of the behavioural ecology of grizzly bears.”
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