To help the recovery of a remnant grizzly (Ursus arctos horribilis) population in the Cabinet‐Yaak Ecosystem in northwestern Montana, wildlife managers have proposed augmenting the population with bears translocated from a larger population. This proposal has raised fears that translocated bears might endanger human lives and livelihoods. To reconcile the biological needs of this grizzly population with the socioeconomic needs of the human population, we used a combination of decision analysis, consensus of expert opinion, and tradeoff analysis to design a pilot scale augmentation program to enhance grizzly viability while minimizing bear‐human conflicts. The analysis incorporated objective and subjective information on the movements, behavior, and reproductive potential of different age‐sex classes elicited from a group of experts on grizzly biology and management. This information was used to rank the different age‐sex classes according to three criteria: retention of translocated bears in the Cabinet‐Yaak Ecosystem, conflict with human activities, and relative contribution to grizzly population growth. Subadult females were high in reproductive contribution and moderate in conflict, adult females were moderate in reproductive contribution and low in conflict, adult males were low in reproductive contribution and low in conflict, and subadult males were very low in reproductive contribution and high in conflict. These rankings were insensitive to minor changes in the expert judgments used in the analysis. Because the goals of maximizing population growth and minimizing conflict could not be met with any age‐sex class, we used tradeoff analysis to establish minimum thresholds for retention and maximum thresholds for conflict and to characterize the experts’ preferences among different combinations of reproductive contribution and conflict. A reranking of the age‐sex classes based on the tradeoff analysis showed that 4‐ to 8‐year‐old females were most preferred. The analysis revealed that no more than one out of three translocated bears was likely to remain within the Cabinet‐Yaak Ecosystem and that as many as one out of four might seriously conflict with human activities. These results prompted an intensive public education program to muster support for the augmentation program before any translocations were attempted.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 1992
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