Grizzly bear populations just outside of Jasper National Park have gone up by an estimated seven percent annually in the last 10 years, according to recently released data from the Foothills Research Institute (fRI).
A population study conducted last year in Bear Management Area Three (BMA3), a 10,000 square kilometre area east of JNP and south of Highway 16, determined that there were approximately 74 bears in 2014, up from 36 bears in 2004. “[This] is higher than commonly seen in most interior grizzly bear populations in North America,” the study reads.
Moreover, researchers estimate there are approximately 54 bears in a 7,000 square kilometre area of South Jasper National Park.
Assuming bear density is the same as it was when the northern half of the park was studied in 2008, the authors of the report estimate there are 113 grizzly bears in JNP in total.
Last summer, field crews collected grizzly bear hair samples from over 250 sites in the study area, using DNA from the hair to estimate the population size.
Up-to-date, accurate information is critical to making good recovery plans and evaluating progress in managing this species, said one of the report’s author, Gord Stenhouse. “Grizzly bears have been listed as a threatened species in Alberta since 2010. Recovery plans benefit from good data on how many bears there are and where they live.”