Use of Bait Stations to Monitor Black Bear Populations in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley

Black bear populations of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) are threatened by continuing habitat destruction, necessitating development of techniques to monitor population trends. Bait station surveys have proven successful for monitoring other southeastern bear populations. We conducted experimental bait station surveys during May-August 1992 and 1993 to evaluate effect of bait type (fish, sardines, meat), sampling duration (4 and 8 days), and sampling month on bait station visitation rates by black bears. In 1992 and 1993, visitation rates by black bears were 11.4% and 27.2%, respectively. Highest visitation rates occurred using fish bait in August with an 8-night sampling period. We recommend conducting MAV bait station surveys in August using fish bait. Bait stations should be conducted annually where visitation rates allow monitoring of population trends and every 3-5 years in low bear density areas to provide baseline distributional information.

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