Problem behaviour of black bears (Ursus americanus) in central Ontario: the effects of hunting and natural food availability

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Problem bear behaviour in residential areas often results in human anxiety and potential injury, bear mortality and demographic instability. Identifying and understanding factors related to problem bear activity and encounters is important for developing successful management strategies. Indices of natural bear forage availability and hunting pressure were related to problem bear activity in central Ontario. Data were collected 5 years before and 5 years after the cancellation of a spring bear hunt, providing a unique opportunity to study the effect of management policy on problem behaviour. Problem bear activity indices increased significantly following the closure of the spring hunt. Natural food availability from the previous year was found to be highly correlated with early season problem bear activity indices; however, natural food availability during the same year was not significantly related to early or late season problem activity rates. This demonstrates that multiple potential causal agents of problem bear behaviour need to be considered when developing management strategies.

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Figures

  • Annual number of black bear (Ursus americanus) captures in the Sudbury area of central Ontario.

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  • Total number of monthly problem black bear (Ursus americanus) captures in the Sudbury area for data collected between 1995 and 2004.

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  • Correlation of the annual number of black bear (Ursus americanus) “hits” per bait transect survey and the number of problem bear captures in the Sudbury area between 1997 and 2004.

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  • Early season (May, June, July) black bear (Ursus americanus) captures in relation to bear food quality of the previous year.

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