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Rates and Causes of Grizzly Bear Mortality in the Interior Mountains of British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Washington, and Idaho

Bruce N. McLellan, Fred W. Hovey, Richard D. Mace, John G. Woods, Daniel W. Carney, Michael L. Gibeau, Wayne L. Wakkinen and Wayne F. Kasworm
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 63, No. 3 (Jul., 1999), pp. 911-920
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802805
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802805
Page Count: 10
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Rates and Causes of Grizzly Bear Mortality in the Interior Mountains of British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Washington, and Idaho
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Abstract

Trends of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) populations are most sensitive to female survival; thus, understanding rates and causes of grizzly bear mortality is critical for their conservation. Survival rates were estimated and causes of mortalities investigated for 388 grizzly bears radiocollared for research purposes in 13 study areas in the Rocky and Columbia mountains of Alberta, British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, and Washington between 1975 and 1997. People killed 77-85% of the 99 grizzly bears known or suspected to have died while they were radiocollared. In jurisdictions that permitted grizzly bear hunting, legal harvest accounted for 39-44% of the mortalities. Other major causes of mortality included control killing for being close to human habitation or property, self-defense, and malicious killings. The mortality rate due to hunting was higher (P = 0.006) for males than females, and subadult males had a higher probability (P = 0.007) of being killed as problem animals than did adult males or females. Adult females had a higher (P = 0.009) mortality rate from natural causes than males. Annual survival rates of subadult males (0.74-0.81) were less than other sex-age classes. Adult male survival rates varied between 0.84 and 0.89 in most areas. Survival of females appeared highest (0.95-0.96) in 2 areas dominated by multiple-use land and were lower (0.91) in an area dominated by parks, although few bears were killed within park boundaries. Without radiotelemetry, management agencies would have been unaware of about half (46-51%) of the deaths of radiocollared grizzly bears. The importance of well-managed multiple-use land to grizzly bear conservation should be recognized, and land-use plans for these areas should ensure no human settlement and low levels of recreational activity.

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