During the six-year period 1967-1972, use of the backcountry in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) more than doubled. From 1973-1977, backcountry recreational use increased by another 53%. As use of YNP's backcountry increased, park managers became concerned over the potential impact high levels of recreational use might have on grizzly bear activity in backcountry areas. Craighead (1980) recommended delineation of critical bear habitat in the Yellowstone ecosystem and restriction of certain types of human activity within these areas. In 1983, the park implemented a Bear Management Area program, which restricts recreational use in areas with seasonal concentrations of grizzly bears. The goals behind these restrictions were to: 1) minimize bear/human interactions that may lead to habituation of bears to people; habituation often results in the bear being removed from the population due to concern for human safety, 2) prevent human-caused displacement of bears from prime food sources, and 3) decrease the risk of bear-caused human injury in areas with high levels of bear activity (National Park Service, 1982).
1. Minimize bear/human interactions that may lead to habituation of bears to people.
Sixteen Bear Management Areas encompassing 464,638 acres (21% of YNP) have been designated within YNP. This includes 206,100 acres where off-trail travel is prohibited, 161,211 acres closed to human entry on a seasonal basis, 63,867 acres restricted to day-use-only, and 33,460 acres that are closed to human entry for part of the summer, then restricted to day-use-only for the remainder of the summer.
The park service plans to evaluate the success of the Bear Management Area program periodically. As new data becomes available, some areas may be added or deleted from the system. Restrictions for each area will be adjusted to provide maximum potential benefit for the bear, while still providing park visitors a reasonable opportunity to safely enjoy the park's backcountry.
Craighead, J. J. 1980. A proposed delineation of critical grizzly bear habitat in the Yellowstone region. Bear Biol. Assoc. Monogr. Ser. No. 1. 20pp.
Green, G. I., and D. J. Mattson. 1988. Dynamics of ungulate carcass availability and use by bears on the northern winter range: 1987 progress report. Pages 32-50 in R. R. Knight, B. M. Blanchard, and D. J. Mattson. Yellowstone grizzly bear investigations: annual report of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, 1987. U.S. Dep. Inter., Natl. Park Serv.
Gunther, K. A. 1990. Visitor impact on grizzly bear activity in Pelican Valley, Yellowstone National Park. Int. Conf. Bear Res. and Manage. 8:73-78.
Herrero, S. 1985. Bear attacks - their causes and avoidance. Nick Lyons Books, New York, N.Y. 287pp.
Jope, K. M. 1983. Habituation of grizzly bears to people: a hypothesis. Int. Conf. Bear Res. and Manage. 5:322-327.
Mattson, D. J. and J. Henry. 1987. Spring grizzly bear use of ungulate carcasses in the Firehole River drainage. Pages 63-72 in R. R. Knight, B. M. Blanchard, and D. J. Mattson. Yellowstone grizzly bear investigations: annual report of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, 1986. U.S. Dep. Inter., Natl. Park Serv.
National Park Service. 1982. Final environmental impact statement, grizzly bear management program. U.S. Dep. Inter. Natl. Park Serv., Yellowstone Natl. Park, Wyo. 202pp.
Reinhart, D. P., and D. J. Mattson 1990. Bear use of cutthroat trout spawning streams in Yellowstone National Park. Int. Conf. Bear Res. and Manage. 8:343-350.
Schleyer, B. O. 1983. Activity patterns of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem and their reproductive behavior, predation and the use of carrion. M.S. Thesis. Mont. State Univ., Bozeman. 130pp.
Last updated: May 17, 2018