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Inventory Methods for Bears

Standards for Components of British Columbia's Biodiversity No. 21

Prepared by
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks
Resources Inventory Branch
for the Terrestrial Ecosystems Task Force
Resources Inventory Committee

May 12, 1998
Version 2.0

Back to Task Force Index

© The Province of British Columbia
Published by the
Resources Inventory Committee

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data

Main entry under title:

Inventory methods for bears [computer file]

(Standards for components of British Columbia's biodiversity ; no. 21)

Available through the Internet.

Issued also in printed format on demand.

Included bibliographical references: p.

ISBN 0-7726-3544-7

1. Bears - British Columbia - Inventories - Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Ecological surveys - British Columbia - Handbooks, manuals, etc. I. BC Environment. Resources Inventory Branch. II. Resources Inventory Committee (Canada). Terrestrial Ecosystems Task Force. III. Series.

QL737.C27I58 1998



Additional Copies of this publication can be purchased from:

Superior Repro

#200 - 1112 West Pender Street

Vancouver, BC V6E 2S1

Tel: (604) 683-2181

Fax: (604) 683-2189

Digital Copies are available on the Internet at:


This manual presents standard methods for inventory of bears in British Columbia at three levels of inventory intensity: presence/not detected (possible), relative abundance, and absolute abundance. The manual was compiled by the Elements Working Group of the Terrestrial Ecosystems Task Force, under the auspices of the Resources Inventory Committee (RIC). The objectives of the working group are to develop inventory methods that will lead to the collection of comparable, defensible, and useful inventory and monitoring data for the species component of biodiversity.

This manual is one of the Standards for Components of British Columbia's Biodiversity (CBCB) series which present standard protocols designed specifically for groups of species with similar inventory requirements. The series includes an introductory manual (Species Inventory Fundamentals No. 1) which describes the history and objectives of RIC, and outlines the general process of conducting a wildlife inventory according to RIC standards, including selection of inventory intensity, sampling design, sampling techniques, and statistical analysis. The Species Inventory Fundamentals manual provides important background information and should be thoroughly reviewed before commencing with a RIC wildlife inventory. RIC standards are also available for vertebrate taxonomy (No. 2), animal capture and handling (No. 3), and radio-telemetry (No. 5). Field personnel should be thoroughly familiar with these standards before engaging in inventories which involve either of these activities.

Standard data forms are required for all RIC wildlife inventory. Survey-specific data forms accompany most manuals while general wildlife inventory forms are available in the Species Inventory Fundamentals No. 1 [Forms] (previously referred to as the Dataform Appendix). This is important to ensure compatibility with provincial data systems, as all information must eventually be included in the Species Inventory Datasystem (SPI). For more information about SPI and data forms, visit the Species Inventory Homepage at:

It is recognized that development of standard methods is necessarily an ongoing process. The CBCB manuals are expected to evolve and improve very quickly over their initial years of use. Field testing is a vital component of this process and feedback is essential. Comments and suggestions can be forwarded to the Elements Working Group by contacting:

Species Inventory Unit

Wildlife Inventory Section, Resource Inventory Branch

Ministry of Environment, Lands & Parks

P.O. Box 9344, Station Prov Govt

Victoria, BC V8W 9M1

Tel: (250) 387 9765


Funding of the Resources Inventory Committee work, including the preparation of this document, is provided by the Corporate Resource Inventory Initiative (CRII) and by Forest Renewal BC (FRBC). Preliminary work of the Resources Inventory Committee was funded by the Canada-British Columbia Partnership Agreement of Forest Resource Development FRDA II.

The Resources Inventory Committee consists of representatives from various ministries and agencies of the Canadian and the British Columbia governments as well as from First Nations peoples. RIC objectives are to develop a common set of standards and procedures for the provincial resources inventories, as recommended by the Forest Resources Commission in its report "The Future of our Forests".

For further information about the Resources Inventory Committee and its various Task Forces, please contact:

The Executive Secretariat

Resources Inventory Committee

840 Cormorant Street

Victoria, BC V8W 1R1

Tel: (250) 920-0661

Fax: (250) 384-1841

Terrestrial Ecosystems Task Force

All decisions regarding protocols and standards are the responsibility of the Resources Inventory Committee. The current version of this manual is the result of the hard work and expertise of Grant MacHutchon and John Boulanger. The background information and many protocols presented in this document were originally based on the unpublished government report, Standardized Methodology for the Inventory of Biodiversity of British Columbia: Large Terrestrial Carnivores (Black Bear, Grizzly Bear, Gray Wolf, Cougar), prepared by E. Todd Manning, A. Grant MacHutchon and John M. Cooper of Branta Educational Consultants, with assistance from A. Hamilton, A. Derocher, D. Janz, L. Carbyn, K. Atkinson, R. Hayes, R. Stephenson, P. Clarkson, M. Jalkotzy, J. Gunson, F. Hovey, and B. Spreadbury.

The Standards for Components of British Columbia's Biodiversity series is currently edited by James Quayle with data form development by Leah Westereng.

Table of Contents









List of Figures

Figure 1. RIC species inventory survey design hierarchy with examples.

Figure 2. Two comparisons of black bear and grizzly bear foot-prints (Herrero 1985).

Figure 3. Tracks and gait of black bear (left) and grizzly bear (right) (Herrero 1985).

Figure 4. Coefficient of variation of model Mh (jack-knife) as it relates to population size at three levels of mean capture probability.

List of Tables

Table 1. Types of inventory surveys for bears, the data forms needed, and the level of intensity of the survey.

Table 2. Bear DNA mark-recapture design issues and sample methods (Boulanger in prep.)


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