Weekly Update: Kodiak Brown Bear Trust Yearly Report

Kodiak Bear In 2012, SCI Foundation partnered with the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust (KBBT) to assist with research and conservation management on Sitkalidak Island in the western Gulf of Alaska. The study estimated bear populations on the island and learned survival and reproduction of the bears. The KBBT recently provided an update on their findings over the past year. In 2013, aerial surveys were conducted from July 6th through August 30th along the streams commonly used by bears (Southeast Creek, Red Lake River, Connecticut River and more). The surveys indicated that bear density had decreased. The average number of bears observed per survey was 38 compared to the 1985-2005 average of 85 bears. Stream survey counts typically vary from year to year, so the low number of bears seen in 2013 may be a one-year anomaly. However, one survey did cause concern for researchers. The Karluk Lake Intensive Aerial Survey indicated that the estimated number of independent bears in the Karluk Lake Basin declined from 132 in 2003 to 68 in 2013. This alarming decline has led resource managers to examine possible factors that might contribute to the drop in bear population numbers and develop plans to address the problem. Further research is needed before a proper solution can be drawn. The project has also been continually monitoring seven radio-collared female bears and their cubs. Information collected on these bears will be incorporated into a population model that will provide a measure of population status and recruitment. Overall, this year’s data will allow researchers to compare population parameters of bears on Sitkalidak Island with Kodiak Island.  These comparisons will provide insight on how to adapt management strategies for specific subpopulations.  This type of intensive management is necessary for many brown bear populations because they are such a valuable aesthetic and economic resource. Twice a week, SCI Foundation informs readers about conservation initiatives happening worldwide and updates them on SCI Foundation’s news, projects and events. Tuesdays are dedicated to an Issue of the Week and Thursday’s Weekly Updates will provide an inside look into research and our other science-based conservation efforts. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more SCI Foundation news. 

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