To maximize survival and reproduction, and minimize energy expenditure, hibernators invest considerable efforts in the selection of overwintering sites. In the boreal forest, a major portion of industrial activities from timber harvesting and from oil and gas exploration takes place during winter, and disturbances to grizzly bears at dens are common. Although grizzly bears are threatened in Alberta, little was known about how winter requirements could be incorporated into management efforts. We demonstrated that den selection by grizzly bears is governed by broad-scale and ﬁne-scale variables linked to den insulation, remoteness, and availability of spring food resources. Our findings can be used to develop guidelines to minimize human-bear interactions and potential impacts of land-use activities on denning habitat for grizzly bears. Moreover, our analytical approach using multiple scales remains applicable to a broad range of species utilizing dens, and to other areas. As a result of this research, we developed a Geographic Information System (GIS) tool to help inform decision-making in support of grizzly bear conservation. This tool allows land managers to visualize the potential impact of their planned activities on high quality denning habitat in the boreal forest of Alberta.
Pigeon KE, SE Nielsen, GB Stenhouse, SD Côté (2014) Den selection by grizzly bear on a managed landscape. J Mammal 95: 559 – 571
Pigeon KE, SD Côté, GB Stenhouse (2016) Assessing den selection and den characteristics of grizzly Bears. J Wildl Manage. 80: 884 – 893