Distribution of Black Bears in the Southeastern Coastal Plain

Black bear (Ursus americanus) distribution and habitat quantities were estimated for the Coastal Plain region of the southeastern United States. Bears are imperiled in the southeastern Coastal Plain primarily because of habitat loss. Accordingly, this paper focuses on bear habitat in the region. Resident bear populations are scattered across the Coastal Plain. They occupy an estimated 67,791 km2. The current distribution, a consequence of habitat loss, represents a 93% range reduction from historic levels. The greatest quantity of habitat supporting resident populations occurs in Florida (30,773 km2) and North Carolina (18,700 km2). Most (76%) bear habitat in the Coastal Plain is privately owned. Six of the 10 states in the region contain large blocks of forested areas (>200 km2) that are without bears; these are potential stocking sites. The largest block of potential range occurs in eastern Texas. Management implications of the distribution are discussed.

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