Communications Project

Document Type:Master's Thesis
Name:Jennifer C. Higgins
Title:Survival, Home Range and Spatial Relationships of Virginia's Exploited Black Bear Population
Degree:Master of Science
Department:Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Committee Chair: Dr. Michael R. Vaughan
Committee\ Members:
Keywords:Black bear, survival, exploited, home range
Date of defense:April 25, 1997
Availability:Release the entire work for Virginia Tech access only.
After one year release worldwide only with written permission of the student and the advisory committee chair.


Eighty-three (21M, 62F) of 194 black bears captured during 1994-1996 were equipped with radio collars. Annual survival rates estimated with Kaplain-Meier staggered entry approach for radio collared adult females, adult males, subadult females, and subadult males were 95.3, 100.0, 90.4 and 50.0% respectively. Hunting, handling, vehicle collisions, and natural causes accounted for 81.0, 11.1, 3.2, and 1.6% of mortality. Twenty, 9.8, and 70.6 % of bears harvested were harvested in the deer firearm season, the deer archery season, and the bear firearm season, respectively. Twenty-three cubs were equipped with expandable radio collars (11M,10F) or transmitters implanted subcutaneously (2M,0F) in 1995-1996. Six cubs (4M, 2F) died, 6 (3M,3F) survived their first year, and the status of 11 cubs (6M, 5F) was unknown. Survival rates (date marked until 4 December) estimated with Kaplain-Meier and Heisey-Fuller were 64.3 and 64.7% respectively. Interval survival rates were 71% (15 March to 31 May), 100% (1 June to 31 July), 92% (1 August to 31 August), and 100% (1 September to 4 December). Intraspecific aggression (33.3%), starvation (16.7%), unknown causes (16.7%) and predation (16.7%) were the causes of mortality. Total home range size for males and adult, subadult, and transitional age females were 7.2, 5.5, 5.6 and 7.2 km2 (95% MCP) and 11.2, 6.8, 9.0, and 10.0 km2 (95% normal kernel). Females with cubs had larger fall ranges than spring and summer ranges. Seasonal ranges of solitary females did not differ when estimated with MCP. Bears exhibited home range overlap among and within sex classes.

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