Yellowstone releases reports about bears, wolves, and birds

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. — Yellowstone National Park recently published three reports from 2018 about bear management, wolves, and birds. Each annual report focuses largely on the health of these wildlife populations.

Topics from the Bear Management Program Annual Report include bear sightings, management of roadside bear viewing, bear mortalities, bear-human conflicts, bear-proof food storage locker installation and more.

“There were few bear-human conflicts inside of the park in 2018,” said Yellowstone’s Bear Biologist Kerry Gunther. “However, managing visitors that stopped to view and photograph bears foraging in roadside meadows and thus creating large bear jams was a considerable management challenge.”

An osprey (Pandion haliaetus) kiting above the Gardner RIver. Photo: NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Topics from the Bird Project Annual Report include monitoring of raptors, wetland birds, songbirds and near-passerine, fall migration, raven movements, and noteworthy and rare bird sightings.

Biologist Lauren Walker said, “We used five methods to monitor breeding songbirds in 2018: point counts in willow stands and mature forests, transects through plots in sagebrush steppe, a banding station, and the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). We recorded 35 songbird species within three willow growth types and captured at least 32 species at our banding station in a willow-lined riparian corridor. Observers recorded 24 species in mature forests and 29 species in sagebrush steppe. We also observed over 3,100 individuals belonging to 82 species along three BBS routes in the park.”

Alpha male (712) of the Canyon pack in the Lower Geyser Basin. Photo: NPS // Jim Peaco

Topics from the Wolf Project Annual Report include pup survival, wolf pack summaries, and using radio collars to study wolves.

“In 2018 we noted a drop in pup numbers, however there were no intra-species wolf killings, which is usually the reason for the most wolf mortality,” said Doug Smith, Yellowstone Wolf Project leader. “This year marks a 10-year period of relatively stable wolf numbers. While the reasons for this are unknown, a relatively stable elk population is likely a large factor.”

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