Grizzly bear populations in Yellowstone National Park have grown. Now park and National Forest officials from Montana, Wyoming and Idaho want to understand how this increase will affect campgrounds in the area.
“The goal was initially to look at the causal factors that would put a campground at greater risk for grizzly bear incidents,” Marna Daley, Gallatin National Forest public affairs officer, told the Missoulian.
Forest Service grizzly bear coordinator Dan Tyres spearheaded the project, gathering data from 166 developed campsites over the past two years. His records detail a plethora of information, including an inventory of each campground. Bear distribution information from the past 21 years is also included in the report.
“The Forest Service already has a good idea of how to secure attractants at campsites,” Tyres said. “But this will give us a better idea of where the infrastructure is at across the Greater Yellowstone Area.”
The study considers methods to mitigate bear activity in campgrounds as well. The strategies used before range from casual—move campgrounds away from migratory corridors like rivers and streams or increase campground patrols—to more extreme—restrict campgrounds to hard-sided trailers and campers or put up electrical fencing around the campground.
Ultimately, national park and national forest visitors need to realize that they’re in the wilderness.
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) will also be conducting research within the park from June 3rd-July 15th. The team will trap bears in various areas of the park in order to radio-collar and take scientific samples.
The sites where the research is taking place, will be marked for those people in the back country. Those who do come upon these signs are warned to clear. The members who are conducting the research on behalf of the IGBST are part of a much larger study under the Endangered Species Act. For more information on these efforts call (406) 994-6675.
“There’s a level of risk you take when visiting a national forest,” Kristie Salzmann, information officer for the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming, told the Missoulian. “We can’t guarantee your safety at all times.”