IUCN SSC Guiding Principles on Trophy Hunting as a Tool for Creating Conservation Incentives

IUCN has long recognized that the wise and sustainable use of wildlife can be consistent with and contribute to conservation, because the social and economic benefits derived from use of species can provide incentives for people to conserve them and their habitats. This document builds on existing IUCN policies by setting forth SSC guiding principles on the use of “trophy hunting”, as defined in Section II, as a tool for creating incentives for the conservation of species and their habitats and for the equitable sharing of the benefits of use of natural resources. Trophy hunting is often a contentious activity, with people supporting or opposing it on a variety of biological, economic, ideological or cultural bases. This document is focused solely on the relevance of trophy hunting for conservation and associated local livelihoods. Nothing in this document is intended to support or condone trophy hunting activities that are unsustainable; adversely affect habitats; increase extinction risks; undermine the rights of local communities to manage, steward, and benefit from their wildlife resources; or foster corruption or poor governance.

Predicting Grizzly Bear Density in Western North America

Garth Mowat, Douglas C. Heard, Carl J. Schwarz

Conservation of grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) is often controversial and the disagreement often is focused on the estimates of density used to calculate allowable kill. Many recent estimates of grizzly bear density are now available but field-based estimates will never be available for more than a small portion of hunted populations. Current methods of predicting density in areas of management interest are subjective and untested. Objective methods have been proposed, but these statistical models are so dependent on results from individual study areas that the models do not generalize well. We built regression models to relate grizzly bear density to ultimate measures of ecosystem productivity and mortality for interior and coastal ecosystems in North America. We used 90 measures of grizzly bear density in interior ecosystems, of which 14 were currently known to be unoccupied by grizzly bears. In coastal areas, we used 17 measures of density including 2 unoccupied areas. Our best model for coastal areas included a negative relationship with tree cover and positive relationships with the proportion of salmon in the diet and topographic ruggedness, which was correlated with precipitation. Our best interior model included 3 variables that indexed terrestrial productivity, 1 describing vegetation cover, 2 indices of human use of the landscape and, an index of topographic ruggedness. We used our models to predict current population sizes across Canada and present these as alternatives to current population estimates. Our models predict fewer grizzly bears in British Columbia but more bears in Canada than in the latest status review. These predictions can be used to assess population status, set limits for total human-caused mortality, and for conservation planning, but because our predictions are static, they cannot be used to assess population trend.

Sustainability of the Grizzly Bear Hunt in British Columbia, Canada

Bruce McLellan, Garth Mowat, Tony Hamilton, and Ian Hatter 

The sustainability of the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) hunt in British Columbia, Canada has been questioned and is a high profile issue, particularly in the media. To investigate the hypothesis that the hunt is unsustainable, we examined the sustainable human-caused mortality rate for grizzly bears using recent data on vital rates and population projection models and compare these to rates used by the management agency; examined the age and sex ratio of the kill and how the sex ratio changes with age for the entire province, each population unit, and cohorts born each year between 1977 and 1990; summarized population density estimates in hunted population units in British Columbia and compared these to unhunted areas in adjacent jurisdictions; and reviewed case studies of population units that have been highlighted as most likely to have had unsustainable kill levels. Because the natural mortality rate of adult grizzly bears is 1–2% and lower than was estimated when sustainable human-caused mortality targets were developed, estimated sustainable kill rates are 4–10%, and generally higher than the 4–6% used in British Columbia. We estimated that males have been 3–4 times more vulnerable to being killed by hunters than females, yet males dominate the kill at all ages and the proportion of males increased with age, which is opposite of what is predicted for a heavily hunted population. The average age of female and male grizzly bears killed by hunters increased from 7.1 years and 7.4 years, respectively, in the 1980s to 7.7 years and 8.7 years, respectively, in the 2000s. An average of 107.4 females and 204.9 males per cohort born between 1977 and 1990 were eventually killed by people and recorded, suggesting that many more females than males died for unknown reasons. There have been more population inventories of grizzly bears in British Columbia than in any other jurisdiction. The average density estimate of 21 inventories in hunted areas without salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) in British Columbia (31.2 bears/1,000 km2) was as high as or higher than nearby unhunted areas. The case studies had the highest kill densities or among the highest kill rates in the province and hunting targets were commonly exceeded and seasons closed or the hunter kill target reduced. Although population inventories in these areas found moderate or even high densities of bears, some are now in decline. Hunter kill data from declining populations had a high proportion of males and these were older, demonstrating that these indices of kill rates are sometimes unreliable. Although more population density, trend, and vital rate measurements would be beneficial, the hypothesis that the grizzly bear hunt has been unsustainable was not supported by our investigation of available information. _ 2016 The Wildlife Society.

Statistical population reconstruction to evaluate grizzly bears trends in British Columbia, Canada

Ian Hatter, Garth Mowat, and Bruce McLellan

Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) populations are costly to monitor by traditional survey methods. In British Columbia, Canada, hunter kill data are available and provide relatively inexpensive information that possibly can be used to estimate trends in hunted populations. We applied statistical population reconstruction (SPR) using Program POPRECON 2.0 to evaluate trends in abundance of 3-year-old male grizzly bears for three large areas in British Columbia. Model inputs included annual estimates of age-at-kill and hunter effort, combined with auxiliary information on population abundance in 2012, and a non-hunting survival rate. Modeled abundance in all three areas was sensitive to the auxiliary abundance estimate but less so for the auxiliary survival estimate or the length of the time series. Relative trends in abundance appeared to be primarily affected by kill and effort data and were less affected by the auxiliary data. The gradual increase in abundance within the Temperate Mountains area from 1985 to 2004 followed by an apparent decline was consistent with other independent studies and supported the premise that grizzly bear numbers were recovering from a population low until between 2000 and 2005. Our results suggest that the grizzly bear population in the Boreal–Sub-boreal area was also recovering during this period. Our analysis demonstrates the potential utility of SPR for monitoring grizzly bear population trends, but results from the Coastal area also highlight the importance of sufficient hunter-kill and -effort data, in addition to quality auxiliary data, to detect population change. Future enhancements in Program POPRECON may help improve the performance and utility of SPR for grizzly bears in British Columbia.

Grizzly Bears in British Columbia

Today there are a minimum of 13,800 Grizzly Bears in British Columbia. These 13,800 animals must co-exist with four million humans. For centuries, humans have refused to tolerate this large, mobile, and potentially dangerous species in or near settled areas or livestock ranges. Grizzly Bears are relatively long-lived and intelligent and have adapted to some extent to human activities and land uses, but wilderness is where they do best.