Human impact on brown bear mortality

Submitted by editor on 27 September 2016.

Humans are important agents of wildlife mortality, and understanding such mortality is paramount for effective population management and conservation. We investigated spatial patterns in human-caused mortality in Scandinavian brown bears and found that human-caused mortality was positively associated with human footprint (e.g., roads, settlements).

We identified that areas close to human footprint act as potential ecological sinks (i.e., avoided habitat with high mortality risk), and agricultural fields (oat fields in particular) as potential ecological traps (i.e., selected habitat with high mortality risk) in our study area. We emphasize that human-caused mortality in bears and maybe in wildlife generally can show a very local spatial structure, which may have far-reaching population effects through, for example, ecological traps.

The authors through Sam Steyaert

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