Physical and Behavioral Characteristics of Nuisance and Non-nuisance Black Bears in Southern West Virginia

Increased interactions among humans and black bears (Ursus americanus) are spurring increased concerns over property damage and human safety. These concerns become more apparent with habitat loss and fragmentation, particularly in relation to urban situations. To better understand the behavior and ecology of nuisance and non-nuisance black bears, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) captured 152 (127 males, 25 females) nuisance and 118 (61 males, 57 females) non-nuisance individuals from 1996 to 2002. Sample sizes for each analysis were lower due to missing or incomplete data. Initial age of capture was greater for nuisance (N = 104, ¯x = 4.04 yr, SD = 2.64) than non-nuisance (N = 52, ¯x = 3.29 yr, SD = 2.75) bears (P = 0.003). Mean litter size was similar for nuisance (N = 15, ¯x = 3.0 cubs, SD = 1.09) and non-nuisance (N = 17, ¯x = 2.65 cubs, SD = 0.88) female bears (P = 0.309). Nuisance males translocated ?8 km (8-68 km) from point of capture were less likely to repeat nuisance behaviors (N = 58, 27.6%) than bears moved <5 km from their capture site (N = 11, 72.7%; P = 0.005). Nuisance males were 19% more likely to survive fall archery and rifle season (N = 106, 86.2%) compared to non-nuisance males (N = 40, 67.0%, P = 0.014). Removing nuisance bears from their point of capture appears to be relatively effective in reducing future nuisance problems. Innovative means of increasing hunting mortality of nuisance bears, while maintaining mortality rates of non-nuisance bears should be addressed in future studies.

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