Park Break Perspectives: The challenges of managing black bears in urbanizing areas

(April 26, 2010) — Management of black bears (Ursus americanus) has been a challenge for park managers for decades.  Human–bear conflicts are almost ingrained in the lore of North American parks, in fact: we all have seen photos of bears begging food from a line of stopped traffic, or heard tales of "nusiance bears" that have had to be run off from campgrounds.

In the seventh paper in the GWS's Park Break Perspectives Series, published today, Ryo Sakurai and James Barnes take a look at the problem at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, home to an abundant population of bears and the center of a burgeoning population of humans because of its close proximity to New York City and other East Coast urban areas.  Recommendations for effective black bear management in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: Expected future problems and solutions gives a cogent overview of the situation at the park, and suggests some possible responses to the problem, including some interesting comparisons with Japan, which has its own problems managing the Asiatic cousin of the American black bear.

Park Break Perspectives, a new series of papers that offer fresh looks at perennial and emerging issues through the eyes of up-and-coming scholars. Park Break Perspectives puts the spotlight on research papers and essays written by graduate students participating in the Society's Park Break alternative spring break program.  The papers were developed in consultation with faculty members, park scientists, and other park professionals. 

All Park Break Perspectives papers are published in PDF format and can be downloaded at