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Effects of wildlife viewing on the behaviour of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) in the Khutzeymateen (K’tzim-a-deen) Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, British Columbia Pitts, Anton

Abstract

Some level of human activity is often permitted in protected areas, and concerns arise over the impacts of these activities on the wildlife inhabiting them. Human impacts have traditionally been assessed under the paradigms of conservation biology and wildlife management, which tend to focus on population or community level processes. I argue that public concerns over the impacts of human activity, and especially of nonconsumptive recreation, also include a concern for the quality of life of individual animals, and that approaches from the field of animal welfare can address these concerns and thus complement the traditional approaches to the problem. I measured time budgets of grizzly bears at the Khutzeymateen/ K'tzim-a-deen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary to assess whether human presence appeared to negatively impact the bears. Neither feeding nor travelling behaviours changed significantly in the presence of tourists. Vigilance did increase significantly, but only by modest amounts. Two bears increased their resting by over 18%, leading to an overall significant effect. These changes indicate that tourist presence does not lead to severe .short-term impacts, and suggest that further restrictions are not necessary to protect the quality of life of the bears. Population parameters were not assessed in this study; a long-term monitoring plan would be necessary to rule out possible impacts at this scale.

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