Ecological effects of mine reclamation on grizzly bears Cristescu, B.; Stenhouse, G.B.; Symbaluk, M.; Boyce, M.S.
The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) is a threatened species in Alberta and although we have studied grizzly bear response to forest seral stage change, little is known about the response to coal mine reclamation by bears. We addressed basic ecological questions to describe landscape change effects on grizzly bears, focusing on Luscar and Gregg River reclaimed coal mines in west-central Alberta as case studies. We summarize bear use of mine mineral disturbance limits in relation to season, habitat, diet, and designated human access trails. Eight adult bears were monitored intensively during 2008-2010 using GPS radiocollars that allowed tracking of their movement and distribution on the landscape and facilitated collection of scats for diet analysis. Bears were present on reclaimed mines mostly during summer and fed primarily on vegetative matter. Although habitats were similar on the two mines under study, on Luscar mine bears had higher use of undisturbed forested areas and were closer to forest edge than on Gregg River mine. We attribute these differences primarily to higher presence of humans on Luscar mine, but bears responded differently to motorized and non-motorized trails. While reclaimed mines can provide habitat and forage for grizzly bears during summer, maintaining undisturbed forest patches and access management are necessary to ensure persistence of grizzly bears on reclaimed mining areas.
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