Home range dynamics of black bears in the Alleghany Mountains of western Virginia
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The Cooperative Alleghany Bear Study (CABS) was initiated in 1994 to address concerns over the lack of biological and ecological data for black bear (Ursus americanus) populations in the Alleghany Mountains of western Virginia. I examined home range dynamics of bears during 1994-2002 on 2 study areas that were approximately 160 km apart. I analyzed my data with 3 home range programs (AMA, HRE, and ABODE) and determined the HRE was the least biased and produced the most biologically reasonable home range estimates. I used HRE to generate annual home ranges (fixed-kernel) for 90 bears over 160 bear years; I also generated seasonal home ranges using MCP. Annual and seasonal home ranges of male and female adult bears in the southern study area were larger than that of male and female adult bears in the northern study area, respectively; southern females and northern males had annual home ranges similar in size at the 95% and 75% fixed-kernel contours. In both study areas, most bears did not shift their range when transitioning from spring to summer (North: 63.0%; South: 57.0%) or from summer to fall (North: 67.0%; South: 65.0%), while most bears shifted their seasonal range between spring and fall (North: 67.0%; South: 52.0%). Most female bears in both study areas maintained the same spring and summer home range throughout the duration of the study, while 63% of northern females changed their fall home range and 55% of southern females maintained their fall home range. I found no differences in annual and seasonal home range size among years or among age classes for adult females, but tests for intra-year seasonal difference indicated that fall range was larger than spring and summer in 1997, when western Virginia experienced a poor mast crop. Females with and without COY had similar annual home ranges in either study area. In the north, seasonal home range size did not differ between females with and without COY, while in the south, breeding females (i.e. without COY) had larger spring ranges and smaller fall ranges than females with COY. In both study areas, females with COY had larger fall home ranges than during spring, while seasonal ranges of breeding females did not vary in size during the year.
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