Research Shows Increase in Sitkalidak Brown Bear Population


In May 2012, SCI Foundation partnered with the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust to assist with research and conservation management on Sitkalidak Island. SCIF relies heavily on current reports to accurately achieve their conservation goals, and the Bear Trust’s projects allow biologists to adequately examine regions of the Kodiak Archipelago.

This particular study on the Sitkalidak Brown Bear Population seeks to monitor and estimate bear populations on the island, learn general movement patterns and study brown bear survival and reproduction.   In June, ground and aerial crews searched for individual bears within the study area. Once located, bears were captured, radio-collared and released for monitoring.

Results for 2012 exposed a much higher population estimate than the previous years, with 68 individual bears and a total of 84 brown bears now occupying the island.  This estimate is about three times the amount speculated in the last population study gathered in 1998. The findings solidified a speculation held by residents and biologists that brown bear populations increased since cattle ranching and illegal bear control ceased in the region.

These new estimates could lead to a modified bear harvest strategy in the coming years for Sitkalidak Island.  New population numbers enhance a management team’s ability to make informed decisions about conservation and hunting strategies, and updated data creates a need for new management approaches. Furthermore, the study occurred on the eastern side of Kodiak Island where data reports are extremely limited. Constant, up-to-date research from this location, as well as the other study areas, creates a reference point for data comparison and contributes to a better understanding of bear conditions throughout the entire island.

The Kodiak Brown Bear Trust has been monitoring brown bears for 30 years throughout the Kodiak Archipelago. It was founded in 1981 to reduce impacts on bear populations and habitats created by a lake hydroelectric project. Today, the Trust works to encourage conservation of brown bear populations and protect bear habitats on Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge through research and education.  The SCI Foundation commits itself daily to providing recent and informational research to conservationist efforts and is proud to assist the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust in its endeavors.

Watch this video to learn more:

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