Grizzly bears are a very high profile species that is classified as vulnerable in B.C and are listed in the FIA-FSP Sustainability Eligible Topics 2007-2008 as species of immediate concern to forest managers in B.C. This project is focused primarily on maintaining grizzly bear use of avalanche chutes but also riparian areas in a managed landscape. Almost all grizzly bear studies in complex mountainous terrain have identified strong selection for avalanche chutes. Current guidelines suggest forested buffers of specified widths be left adjacent to avalanche chutes and riparian areas. However, the determination of buffer-width and acceptable forest management within buffers (e.g., selective logging) was based on limited information. Additionally, there are no clear criteria for identifying which avalanche chutes or riparian areas should be buffered and the quality of avalanche chutes cannot be identified without detailed photo interpretation and ground truthing. This project relies on three types of information and analyses. First, avalanche chutes have been mapped to greater detail and digitized using digital orthophotos and ground plots. Using these maps and other attributes, we will conduct a retrospective analysis of previously collected GPS radio-telemetry data on grizzly bears along the Highway #3 corridor between Crowsnest Pass and Elko, VHF collar data from the Westslopes bear project centered on Golden, BC, and, for riparian habitat, VHF and GPS collared bear data from the Flathead River drainage (A FIA-FSP Long Term Research Instillation),. The telemetry data and these detailed maps of avalanche chutes and riparian (once completed) will be used to identify features selected for by grizzly bears. The detailed maps and ground plots will also be used as the basis when developing predictive models using GIS based methods for mapping avalanche chutes and riparian over broader areas. The second part of this project is closely linked t the first and involves collecting new location data from 6 bears that were captured and collared with GPS radiocollars specifically for this project in a portion of the Elk Valley that has an abundance of avalanche chutes with a variety of buffer widths. We will collar 2 to 4 more bears with GPS collars in 2007. We have made detailed maps of the avalanche chutes in this study area for more detailed analyses and the development of extrapolation methods. In this final year of the project, we will focus on writing final reports and preparing journal papers. The third part of this project covered much of the Kootenay Region. In this phase of the project, forests within 150 m of the forest/avalanche chute edge were searched for grizzly bear sign and in particular bear beds (a common use of forests adjacent to foraging areas). At each bed, several ecological site variables were recorded including GPS location and distance to edge. These data not only reflect on how far from the avalanche tract bears bed, but also what forest attributes are used for bed site selection. We will not collect more data on this topic but will complete a final report aimed at managers and a final paper for submission to a scientific journal
Apps, Clayton D., McLellan, Bruce N.; Serrouya, Robert; Pavan, Gary. 2008. Evaluating and refining guidelines for forested buffers for grizzly bear habitat management. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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