Interactions Between Bears and Humans

The Chilkoot River Brown Bear Monitoring Project uses wildlife cameras that are triggered by motion and by infrared sensors, coupled with human observers, to monitor brown bears’ habitat use and fishing success on the Chilkoot River Corridor, in relation to human activity and salmon abundance.  The project aims to foster better understanding of how bears respond to different types and levels of human activity in varying circumstances, through long-term monitoring.  We hope the data collected will help to solve ongoing questions on how best to manage the area for the safety of humans and the well-being of wildlife and the natural resources. 

The cameras are equipped with night vision, so bear activity can be monitored at night as well as during daylight.  This is important because there may be differences in bear activity at night, both due to natural circumstances, and a decrease in human activity at night.  Night vision offers insights into what happens on the Chilkoot River Corridor when humans are away.

In addition to camera monitoring, human observers monitor bear and human activity on the river corridor over randomly selected time blocks several times each week.  Observers performed “scans” every thirty minutes, recording the number of bears and humans in and out of the river at the time of the scan, and the behavior of both humans and bears.  Simultaneously, the observer records bear presence, fishing attempts, and the number of fish caught or scavenged by each bear.  The data from these in situ observations are compared against camera data, to determine how effective the cameras are at monitoring bear activity.  

The Chilkoot River Brown Bear Monitoring Project is funded by the Alaska Chilkoot Bear Foundation, the Charlotte Martin Foundation, the Great Bear Foundation, and private donations.