According to a paper that the Journal of Applied Ecology published on Tuesday, the roads in the backcountry are not that annoying for grizzly bears as the humans that walk on them. It’s interesting that this unusual conclusion could shed some light on the future implications for resource development. Clayton Lamb, a co-author of the study, says that roads as they are might not actually be that bad for bears. However, in order to reach their conclusion, the team of researchers used some DNA marking to discover how 74 bears moved over 8,000 square kilometers in Southern British Columbia.
Their goal was to analyze the relationship between bear populations and road density in that area. According to some older studies, more than 0.6 kilometers of road per square kilometer influenced the declining numbers of grizzly bears. However, Lamb thinks that these figures have to do mostly with the survival of the cubs and the use of habitat. This doesn’t really mean that there’s fewer bears because there’s more roads even if the study seemed to confirm this.
Bears are no bothered by roads, but by people
It seems that bears were three times more common in areas where there were fewer roads. However, Lamb says that it is not the roads that increase bear mortality, but the fact that people travel on them. These bears usually get killed or prefer to not use that road and that habitat anymore. Even if bear hunting has been illegal for 20 years, this doesn’t mean that grizzlies like people too much.
Bears and humans usually get in conflict whenever they meet, even if it’s not their intention. This study also found that the highest numbers of bears were in areas without any roads. According to Lamb, this study should serve as an indication for wildlife managers and resource companies that something is wrong. Also, that they should come up with ideas to solve this problem.
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