National Park Service


Date of this Version



Ecological Applications, 2(4), 1992, pp. 422-430.


The urgent need for an effective monitoring scheme for grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) populations led us to investigate the effort required to detect changes in populations of low-density dispersed animals, using sign (mainly scats and tracks) they leave on trails. We surveyed trails in Glacier National Park for bear tracks and scats during five consecutive years. Using these data, we modeled the occurrence of bear sign on trails, then estimated the power of various sampling schemes. Specifically, we explored the power of bear sign surveys to detect a 20% decline in sign occurrence. Realistic sampling schemes appear feasible if the density of sign is high enough, and we provide guidelines for designs with adequate replication to monitor long-term trends of dispersed populations using sign occurrences on trails.