Monitoring Bear Dens in Jordan & Campbell River Watersheds
The goal of this project is to monitor Black Bear dens (created in 2014 and 2015) through the enhancement of natural structures (e.g. entrances created in hollow trees and stumps) and installation of artificial structures (e.g. modified culverts and moulded dens). Through photo-monitoring, multiple bear visits to den structures in 2015 have been documented, including bears climbing into an enhanced natural stump den, a culvert den installed in 2014, and a new den pod designed, manufactured and installed in 2015. This project will continue to monitor the created structures to determine their short- and long-term efficacy.
This project will provide a valuable evaluation of the success of this enhancement technique by monitoring 17 structures created or installed in 2014 and 2015. This evaluation will allow an assessment of their efficacy and determine if this is a feasible mitigation technique for impacts associated with hydro-electric and forest management. If bears use these structures, similar structures in other locations in coastal B.C. may be created and installed. This project has the secondary benefit of fostering partnerships between FWCP Coastal, the forest industry, First Nations, and local and provincial government in the prudent management of impacted watersheds for priority activities.
Previous phases of this project have created nine artificial den structures and nine enhanced natural den structures in the Jordan River Watershed, as well as three artificial den structures and one enhanced natural den structure in Campbell River. This is an innovative scientific project that will provide important information for the management of Black Bear habitat.
See for Yourself
Are bears using the new artificial dens? See for yourself. Watch more wildlife camera footage of bears (and a cougar) investigating new dens. Thanks to Artemis Wildlife for sharing videos.
Final Report: Executive Summary
American black bears (Ursus americanus) require suitable winter den sites to provide security and thermal cover to successfully survive the critical winter denning period. On Vancouver Island, winter dens used by black bears have only been found in or beneath large diameter (mean = 143 cm) trees or wooden structures derived from trees (i.e., logs, root boles and stumps). During 2014 and 2015, we created a total of 18 potential den structures, 9 artificial structures (3 culverts, 6 den pods) and 9 enhanced natural structures (4 hollow trees, 4 stumps and 1 log) in the Jordan River watershed, north of Victoria, BC. We also created 5 potential den structures in the Campbell River watershed, 4 artificial structures (4 den pods) and 1 enhanced natural structure (1 stump) in 2015 and 2016. The goal of the current year of this project was to monitor these structures and evaluate investigation and use of these sites by bears. Through video-monitoring we have documented multiple visits by bears to den structures, including bears climbing into 5 of our structures, including two enhanced natural stump dens, two culvert dens installed in 2014, and a den pod installed in 2015. We have documented as many as 33 visits by bears to one culvert den and only one of 18 structures that have been video-monitored has not documented a bear visiting the structure. The number of visits to structures and entrances into structures has continued to increase; a number of structures that were not visited by bears in 2015 had repeated visits in 2016. We also documented the first full entrance by a bear into a den pod in 2016. Public and industry interest in the project is high. We propose to continue to monitor the structures into the future to assess their short- and longterm efficacy at providing alternate den sites for black bears in coastal watersheds heavily impacted by forest harvesting and hydro-electric development. This project fulfils the priority action “Second growth harvesting may be impacting den supply… Good candidate area to assess the feasibility of artificial den structures to replace declining levels of natural den site availability in watersheds with various age classes of managed forest” in the Jordan River Watershed Plan (Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program 2011a).
Click the provincial database link below to read the full final report for this project.