Have you ever come across a bear on a hike? Did one get into your bird feeder?
Do you support increased regulations to avoid human-bear conflicts? Do you know the current ones that already exist?
The Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, through the Wild Neighborhoods program, has launched a survey to gather information about bear conflicts, related regulations, and personal habits. The goal is to learn community members’ views on and experiences with human-bear conflicts to make our community safer for both humans and bears.
Pietro Castelli, a master’s student studying wildlife policy, is running the study this summer as an Alliance intern. Castelli’s personal interest in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and desire to protect wildlife, specifically bears, lead him to the Alliance for this research.
“One of the aspects that makes this community unique is the wild animals that live around us. I want to help protect them, protect us, while also protecting the character of Jackson Hole, and I think that this survey is a vital first step toward better understanding how we can avoid human-bear conflict,” Castelli explained.
Coordinated by the Alliance, the Wild Neighborhoods program is a coalition of local agencies and non-profits in Jackson Hole that provides homeowners with information and resources regarding proactive measures to reduce conflicts with wildlife and prepare for wildfire.
“Part of the Alliance’s vision includes a community where abundant populations of wildlife have the freedom to roam across the landscape, through our neighborhoods, and safely cross our roads,” Alliance Communications Coordinator Marisa Wilson stated. “The Wild Neighborhoods program presents a great opportunity for us to engage with community members who can take small steps to help ensure our landscape remains a place where wildlife and humans can both thrive.“
Other wildlife groups, like the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Wyoming Game and Fish, and the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation (JHWF), offered advice and feedback for Castelli as he finalized the survey.
“We have a responsibility to live compatibly with the many wild animals that share this space with us,” said JHWF Executive Director Jon Mobeck. “The future of the grizzly bear in particular depends upon our community’s willingness to embrace that responsibility. The survey will help to provide a baseline understanding of where we are as a community, and more importantly, where we need to go.”
Visit jhalliance.org/bearsurvey to take the survey and WildNeighborhoods.org to learn more about what steps you can take to reduce conflicts with wildlife. As of early this year, the website is also available in Spanish thanks to a grant from Teton Conservation District.