The brown bear is an iconic species of Alaska’s national parks, and its presence symbolizes the wilderness character of these vast landscapes. Alaska has more than 50% of the remaining North American brown bears and the second largest population worldwide. In spite of the vast habitat protection provided by Alaska’s national parks and regulated harvest, the vulnerability of brown bear populations to human-caused disturbance is high and their resilience to disturbance is minimal. This sensitivity makes them good indicators of ecosystem integrity; a declining bear population can be an early indicator of landscape-level changes. Increasing demands for oil, gas, coal, and minerals along with accompanying industrial development on adjacent lands may pose a threat to brown bear populations through habitat fragmentation and human-caused mortality. Parks in the Arctic Inventory and Monitoring Network (ARCN) may ultimately provide a refuge for brown bears in northwest Alaska that are adapted to life in the Arctic, but strong monitoring programs are needed to understand whether these bear populations can remain healthy in a rapidly changing Arctic.
We monitor brown bears in all the Arctic parks specifically to understand:
Long-term trends in bear abundance and density within 5 park units
Long-term trends in bear occupancy in each survey area
How we monitor brown bears
Contact: William Deacy
Last updated: September 17, 2021