Winter Movements and Denning of Black Bears in Northwest Florida

Information on winter movements and denning of Florida black bears (Ursus americanus floridanus) is important to develop habitat management programs. I studied denning characteristics and winter movements of 13 radiocollared bears (9M, 4F) in the Apalachicola National Forest and surrounding timberlands of northwest Florida from 1990-91 to 1992-93. All monitored bears denned during the study. Pregnant females entered dens earlier (P < 0.02), emerged later (P < 0.02), and denned longer (142 ± 5 [SE] vs. 52 ± 7 days) than other bears. Denning periods for pregnant females were similar to those reported from other Southeastern black bear populations. Males denned for short periods (¯x = 51 ± 8 days, N = 8). One male bear, which denned during winter 1991-92, remained active during winter 1992-93, using a range of 37 km2. All males, even when they denned, ranged widely during winter (¯x = 18 ± 7 km2). Short denning periods and extensive winter movements are likely related to food availability, mild climate, and possibly habitat quality.

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