Life Science Hour Seminar Series

Name:Heather Johnson
Affiliation:USGS
Title:The influence of human development on black bear behavior and demography: lessons learned from Colorado
Date:Friday, 14 September 2018
Time:3:00PM
Location:Murie Life Science Bldg, Murie Auditorium.

Abstract:

Across the country, conflicts among people and black bears are increasing and have become a high priority for wildlife management agencies. Whether increases in conflicts reflect recent changes in bear population trends or just bear behavioral shifts to anthropogenic food resources has been largely unknown, with key implications for bear management. In response to this issue, I led a 6-year study in southwest Colorado to understand the influence of human development on black bear behavior and demography, and to assess management strategies for reducing human-bear conflicts. In my talk, I will describe research findings on how bear use of human food is modifying foraging and hibernation behavior, altering bear demographic rates, and influencing bear abundance. I will also detail our results on the effectiveness of urban bear-proofing, both for reducing human-bear conflicts and for changing public attitudes and perceptions. Additionally, I will discuss how this research is challenging key assumptions, and can be used by wildlife agencies to improve bear management as landscapes become increasingly developed.

About the Speaker:

Heather Johnson is a Research Wildlife Biologist at the USGS Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Heather has a PhD in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana, a MS in Wildlife Science from the University of Arizona, and a BS in Ecology from the University of California, San Diego. Heather’s research focuses on large mammal population dynamics, behavior, and human-wildlife conflicts for the purpose of improving management and conservation efforts. Prior to working for the USGS, Heather conducted wildlife research for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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