CONSERVING GRIZZLY BEAR POPULATIONS is a significant challenge for wildlife managers throughout North America. Much fruitful research has been conducted on the biology of grizzlies, but how to craft policies that will surface to conserve grizzlies at biologically meaningful spatial scales remains poorly understood. This task, which demands interjurisdictional cooperation in complex and varied social contexts (e.g., Herrero 1994; Herrero et al. 2001; Mattson et al. 1996), can create conflicts between management agencies and local residents that can jeopardize ecosystem management and planning programs—programs that often feature grizzlies as key components (Clark and Slocombe 2005; Primm and Murray 2005). Broadly, the goal of this study was to understand how and why such conflicts occur. I used qualitative data analysis and case study methods (Miles and Huberman 1994; Yin 2003) and the policy sciences’ interdisciplinary problem analysis framework (Clark 2002) to analyze and compare four case studies of grizzly bear management in Canada (fig. 1):
1. Foothills Model Forest (FMF), Alberta (including Jasper National Park)
2. Southwestern Yukon Territory (including Kluane National Park)
3. North slope of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR), Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory (including Ivvavik National Park)
4. Baker Lake, Nunavut (no park nearby)
Using established and culturally appropriate interview methods (Huntington 1998), I conducted 59 interviews with decision makers and stakeholders at these four sites from 2003 to 2005. Working with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations in the southwestern Yukon, we held a series of focus groups to investigate bear management in detail. Using HyperResearch software (http://www.researchware.com), I transcribed and coded all recorded material for analysis. My interpretation of results was enriched by 12 years of experience working for Parks Canada, including two years of involvement with grizzly bear management in Kluane National Park. The views and conclusions expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect the perspectives of the U.S. National Park Service, Parks Canada, or any other organization mentioned.
“Much fruitful research has been conducted on the biology of grizzlies, but how to craft policies that will suffice to conserve grizzlies at biologically meaningful spatial scales remains poorly understood.”
Clark, D. 2009. Societal dynamics in grizzly bear conservation: Vulnerabilities of the ecosystem-based management approach. Park Science 26(1):50–53.
Available at https://www.nature.nps.gov/ParkScience/archive/PDF/Article_PDFs/ParkScience26(1)Spring2009_50-53_Clark_2620.pdf.