The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is committed to conservation, with our main focus being conservation of habitat and wild species in the Yellowstone ecosystem. Here are some of the ways that we are working to preserve the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem:
– The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee is a group that consists of many different agencies who study what’s happening in the world of bears and educate people on how to help wild bears stay in the wild. One of the most common bear attractants in local neighborhoods seems to be trash. In cooperation with the Living With Wildlife Foundation and the IGBC we offer our services to their container testing (link to Product Testing page) program by having the Center’s bears test trash and backpacking containers.
– The GWDC has been working with the Wind River Bear Institute, a group that works with bear shepherding dogs to help train bears to stay away from human areas since 2003. Not only do we educate people about the work of this great organization, but we have brought Nakiska – a Karelian Bear Dog – to work at the Center, helping to create a connection between visitors, these wonderful hard-working dogs and the bears that they help to save.
– Work is also done with government agencies regarding their conservation efforts. We have worked closely with the National Park Service educating the public about the proper use and effectiveness of Bear Pepper Spray. The hope is that increasing people’s understanding about Bear Pepper Spray will prevent future conflicts.
– We have helped the US Geological Survey in their efforts to better understand mange, a parasitic disease that causes animals to lose their fur. In order to help the USGS with their study, small spots were shaved on two of the wolves in the High Country pack. Then, scientists came with heat sensing equipment on very cold nights to record how much heat loss the wolves experienced due to these small patches of bare skin.
– We have participated in several local community conservation efforts including International Migratory Bird Day, Earth Day, Raptor Fest, the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count and are involved in spring clean-up along a local highway. We also visit the local after school and summer recreation programs.
Other non-invasive research projects include:
- Researchers from the Wind River Bear Institute endeavoring to learn if bears use low-frequency calls to communicate with each other, as elephants do, ran a series of tests at the Center, using sound level meters and recording devices to detect possible low frequency calls from the Center’s bears.
- A researcher studying benefits of wolf kills to other Yellowstone wildlife used the Center’s bears to determine how fast a grizzly can consume meat.
- Scat and urine from the Center’s bears and wolves were used by a University of Nevada biologist studying moose vulnerability to predators in Jackson Hole.
- Scat from the Center’s wolves was also used by Yellowstone National Park’s wolf project to test the accuracy of the lab used to analyze wild scat samples from Yellowstone.
- A Montana bear researcher used the Center’s bears to evaluate the effectiveness of different blood lures. The most effective lure was later used in a large study in northwestern Montana which snagged bear hair for DNA analysis and population estimation.
- The GWDC’s resident bear, Spirit, provided hair samples which helped the same project investigate the effect of sample age on DNA analysis success.
- A graduate student from a university in Idaho conducted a study in the summer of 2011 to measure visitors’ perceptions of wolves before and after their visit to the center.
- A University of Montana graduate student conducted a study of visitor perceptions of captive animals at the Center.