Evaluation of Grand Teton National Park's "Be Bear Aware" Message to Visitors

Rieser, Amy
Over the last ten years, human/grizzly bear interaction has rapidly increased in Grand Teton National Park (GRTE). In the last five years, rangers in the park destroy on average one grizzly bear per year, while averaging approximately two human injuries per year due to human/grizzly bear contact. These bears have become habituated to human food sources, increasing contact with humans that may result in conflict. As grizzly bears remain a protected species under the Endangered Species Act (1973), the loss of grizzly bears due to human contact presents challenges for park management. During the summer of 2009, the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center (WYSAC) team met with park managers, employees, and a focus group with Jackson residents. These efforts resulted in the development of a final survey questionnaire and sampling plan. In the summer of 2010, ethnographic research, incorporating intercept survey methods, on 625 park visitors was used to collect information on food storage, food storage habits, and the associated risk-taking behaviors of park visitors. The purpose of this information was to evaluate the public education component of the Be Bear Aware program and inform park managers on the effectiveness of this aspect of the program. Analyzing frequencies as well as latent class analysis indicated at most a third of visitors are not aware of, or do not follow the park's policy regarding storage of non-food items.
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