Bedding Behavior of Black Bears in Tennessee

Two distinct patterns of bedding behavior of black bears (Ursus americanus) were observed; all summer beds (N =25) were surface depressions which required no preparation and all winter beds (N =9) were elaborately constructed nest-type structures. Seven summer beds were depressions in association with fallen trees, 3 were at the base of large standing trees, and 1 was adjacent to a large rock. Fourteen beds were not in the immediate vicinity of similar structures. Eight summer beds were in game trails. Eight of 9 winter beds were adjacent to obviously selected structures such as large logs, trees, and rocks. Dimensions of summer and winter beds averaged 1.35 X 0.73 X 0.23 m and 0.79 X 0.62 X 0.21 m (length X width X depth), respectively. Scats (x =2.5, range = 1-4) were present at all summer beds and therefore may be indicative of the time spent in beds and reflect the importance of bedding sites as micro-habitat components. Scats were present at only 3 of 9 winter beds. Summer beds occurred in a wide range of forest types (N =6) and understory compositions and densities but the majority of winter beds occurred in open oak-pine forest types (6 of 9) with dense understories (9 of 9).

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