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Grand Teton National Park Report

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Grand Teton National Park (GRTE) receives nearly 4 million visitors a year. GRTE also supports thriving populations of black (Ursus americanus) and grizzly (Ursus arctos) bears (GRTE, 2007). The extent to which humans recreate in prime bear habitat influences the probability of bear-human encounters and the potential for conflict. In an effort to reduce bear-human encounters, GRTE managers initiated the “Be Bear Aware”(BBA) program in 2007. One objective of this program is to reduce bear-human encounters through proper food storage by visitors to the campground and picnic areas. To evaluate the efficacy of this program we proposed to interview a sample of park visitors to assess their knowledge and beliefs regarding proper food storage and recreating safely in bear country, gauge their recall of particular “Be Bear Aware” signage, and ascertain their perceived risk of a bear encounter. This information along with trip characteristics and visitor demographics will help park managers identify if “Be Bear Aware” messages are effective and for whom. The project was divided into two phases. The first phase, reported on here, consisted of developing a survey instrument, preparing a sampling plan, and submitting the necessary paperwork to receive approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct the research. Phase 2 of the project, to be initiated in the summer of 2010, consists of administering the survey, analyzing the data, and completing a final report summarizing our research findings.