The grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem is the largest it has ever been. It is estimated that nearly 1,070 grizzly bears are found in northwestern Wyoming and parts of Montana and Idaho. This number is much higher than previous estimates which put the grizzly population estimate at around 750 bears.

Frank van Manen, the team leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team who calculates the population, said they used a less conservative method of counting bears.

“It was a recovering population that you didn’t want to overestimate,” he said. “And so on purpose it ended up underestimating the population. And it was shown in a study team publication in 2008.”

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team uses a system that connects multiple data points to a model to calculate a population number.

One data point is the number of female grizzly bears with cubs that were spotted that year. Van Manen said this number is often conservative, in part because of the 30-kilometer distance criterion between bear families.

“Let’s say it’s 70 females with cubs on the ground. We can only identify maybe 50 of them simply because this criterion was too conservative to separate the sightings into unique groups of individuals to whom they were. actually belong, ”he said.

Van Manen said he reduced the distance to 10 miles for a better estimate. This is the first year that they have used the new approach, but it seems to be more specific to the real situation on the ground.

“Because the population estimate is higher and we are looking at mortality, the percentage of population mortality is actually more in line with some independent methods of estimating survival rates, for example,” he said. -he declares. “So that actually gives these new values ​​extra credibility.”

Van Manen said grizzly bear management will remain the same.

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