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Published July 01, 2021
Recovery and the high rates of human-caused mortality among grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem (GYE) are the topic of the second seminar of the University of Wyoming’s Harlow Summer Seminars program Thursday, July 8, in Jackson.
David Finnoff, a professor in the UW Department of Economics, will discuss “Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Recovery and Managing Mortality” at 6:30 p.m. at UW’s Teton County Extension office, located at 255 W. Deloney Ave. A dinner, at a cost of $5-10 per person, will take place at 5:30 p.m. before Finnoff’s presentation. Reservations are not required.
The annual Harlow Summer Seminars program returns after a one-year hiatus because of COVID-19 concerns. The summer program is normally held at the UW-National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Station, located at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park, but the facility is currently closed for renovations.
Finnoff will present key findings from his bioeconomic model to evaluate the recovery of grizzly bears and consider the potential for a switch from reactive management under federal protections to active management under federal and state agencies. Grizzly recovery areas include Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park -- two of the most visited U.S. national parks.
“People clearly value the opportunity to view grizzly bears, and there is evidence people obtain nonuse value from the mere existence of grizzly bears,” Finnoff says. “However, grizzly bears in the GYE pose risks to local economic activity, local individuals and GYE visitors.”
There has been an increase in the number of grizzly bear-human conflicts, which include livestock depredation, property damage and human injuries. These conflicts may erode public support for conservation and, if they’re severe enough, federal and state agencies may respond by removing offending grizzly bears, Finnoff says. As a result, grizzly bears incur high rates of human-caused mortality even while being federally protected.
“In the model we have developed, grizzly-dependent benefits and damages adjust along the recovery path, which tracks the natural capital value of an additional live grizzly bear in the wild as the population recovers,” Finnoff says. “The natural capital value depends on ecological and human characteristics, as well as the form of management employed.”
He has coupled economic and ecological models to understand the trade-offs facing policymakers considering recovery of endangered species. Finnoff also has coupled economic and epidemiological models for policy analysis of the risk of infectious disease spread in human and wildlife populations.
Formerly called the AMK Ranch Talk Series, the Harlow Summer Seminars program is named after retired UW Department of Zoology and Physiology Professor Hank Harlow, who helped make the UW-NPS Research Station a significant facility for research and community outreach. Harlow began the popular weekly public seminars during the summer months.
UW’s Biodiversity Institute and the Wyoming Microbial Ecology Collaborative/EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) sponsor the Harlow Summer Seminars.
For more information about the Harlow Summer Seminars, email Anne Guzzo, UW-NPS Research Station associate director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.