Title page for ETD etd-08152000-19430055

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Echols, Kim Needham
URN etd-08152000-19430055
Title Aspects of Reproduction and Cub Survival in a Hunted Population of Virginia Black Bears
Degree Master of Science
Department Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Vaughan, Michael R. Committee Chair
Haas, Carola A. Committee Member
Hallerman, Eric M. Committee Member
Kirkpatrick, Roy L. Committee Member
  • reproduction
  • Virginia
  • implants
  • subcutaneous
  • cub survival
  • Ursus americanus
  • black bears
Date of Defense 2000-07-24
Availability unrestricted
We measured black bear (Ursus americanus) reproduction and cub survival during 1994 - 1998, and 1995 - 1999, respectively, in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia to determine age-specific and overall cub production and cub survival. We observed females in estrus between 6 June and 22 August; the mean date of estrus was 17 July. Ages of primiparity ranged between 3 and 5 years with an average of 3.36 years (n=11, SE=0.15). Average litter size for 1995 - 1998 was 2.32 cubs/litter (SE=0.11, n=53) and 85.7% of available females ≥ age 4 (those not accompanied by cubs) reproduced in a given den season. We monitored 98 (48M:50F) black bear cubs equipped with expandable radio-collars (Higgins 1997) or radio transmitters implanted subcutaneously between 1995 and 1999 to estimate cub survival. Kaplan-Meier staggered entry analysis provided 306-day survival rates for 82 cubs. The survival estimates for males and females were 73% (0.49, 0.96) and 91% (0.80, 1.00), respectively. The overall 306-day survival rate for all cubs was 81% (0.67,0.94) using Kaplan-Meier and 76% (0.63, 0.92) using Heisey-Fuller (Mayfield) methods. We also evaluated the utility of radio transmitters implanted subcutaneously in 42 (21M:21F) wild black bear (Ursus americanus) cubs from 2 study areas in Virginia between 1996 and 1999 to monitor first year cub survival. More than 64% (27 of 42) of the implants fell out prematurely (2-198 days), and 16.6% (7 of 42) failed for unknown reasons. Less than 5% (2 of 42) of these cubs denned wearing failed implants, and 9.5% (4 of 42) experienced mortality less than 1 month after implant surgery. About 9.5% (4 of 42) of implanted black bear cubs wore working transmitters through to the following den season.
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