Shenandoah has a robust bear population, but it takes all of us to keep them safe and healthy.

Your donations support park employees whose job is dedicated to bear and visitor safety. They educate park visitors on how to store and dispose of food, safely view wildlife, and keep our bear population safe and healthy.

Project Title: Keeping Bears Wild

Project Purpose: To protect bears and the public by reducing negative human-bear interactions through education, prevention, aversive conditioning, safety measures, and direct management to minimize trash problems, assisting with food storage, public education on proper wildlife viewing practices, and preventing illegal wildlife feeding.

Project Goals:

  • to reduce the number of food-conditioned bears in the park (and thus avoid relocating bears, which poses a risk to their mortality)
  • to lower the number of bears struck by vehicles by 50%
  • to fund two seasonal wildlife technicians that provide much of the needed field support for this program

Project Impact: By having dedicated wildlife technicians addressing bear habituation* and food-conditioned** bear issues, we can avoid more intrusive management (e.g., bear-caused property damage and eventual capture/relocation) and protect bears and natural bear behavior. This project also helps educate visitors and concessioners about proper food storage, proper actions around bears, and how to properly manage their trash. The technicians may also use science-based aversive conditioning interventions on habituated bears when appropriate. Aversive conditioning helps to instill a proper fear of humans and defines the developed zone where wild animals should not enter.

*Wildlife habituation refers to an animal’s loss of fear response to humans.

**Food-conditioning refers to an animal that associates humans with food (from food rewards/unsecured trash) and begins foraging for human food/trash where visitors frequent.

FY23 Project Funding: $15,000 for bear-proof food storage lockers; $60,000 for seasonal Wildlife Technician positions & rental truck

You Can Help! When you visit the park, keep your food stored safely away and keep a proper distance away from wildlife!

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