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Tuesday, October 18 • 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Wildlife. Characteristics of black bear population growth and mortality in northern Georgia: A historical perspective from 1979-2014

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AUTHORS: Andrew R. Little, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Adam Hammond, Georgia Department of Natural Resources–Wildlife Resource Division; James A. Martin, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; *Kristina L. Johannsen, Georgia Department of Natural Resources–Wildlife Resource Division; Karl V. Miller, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

ABSTRACT: An understanding of black bear (Ursus americanus) population trends and characteristics of mortality is needed to direct management decisions in northern Georgia. Therefore, we monitored black bear population characteristics across 26 counties and 18 Wildlife Management Areas in northern Georgia from 1979-2014. We collected mortality data from 6,433 individuals during the study period. Using age-at-harvest data, population reconstruction illustrated an increasing trend in the bear population for both males (λ = 1.113) and females (λ = 1.108). Similarly, bait station indices reflected an increasing population trend based on increased visitation over time (min: 12.3% visitation in 1983; max: 76.7% visitation in 2009). Bear-vehicle collisions have increased from 1986-2014 (β = 0.087; SE = 0.009; P < 0.001). Males were more vulnerable to vehicle collisions than females (χ2 = 29.75, df = 11, P = 0.002), especially males ≤ 2 years old. Males were most vulnerable (35.6%) to vehicle collisions during May-July relative to females (18.2%). However, vehicle collisions of both sexes increased during August-November (males: 47.8%; females: 67.3%). Current population trajectory suggests black bear populations in northern Georgia will continue to increase. If bear population trends continue to increase, we suggest further evaluation of current bear harvest regulations in northern Georgia to reduce potential human-bear conflicts.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Riverview B

Attendees (7)