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Keywords:

  • abundance;
  • American black bear;
  • bear rubs;
  • density estimation;
  • Glacier National Park;
  • hair trap;
  • mark–recapture;
  • mean maximum distance moved;
  • noninvasive genetic sampling;
  • Ursus americanus

ABSTRACT

We report the first abundance and density estimates for American black bears (Ursus americanus) in Glacier National Park (NP), Montana, USA. We used data from 2 independent and concurrent noninvasive genetic sampling methods—hair traps and bear rubs—collected during 2004 to generate individual black bear encounter histories for use in closed population mark–recapture models. We improved the precision of our abundance estimate by using noninvasive genetic detection events to develop individual-level covariates of sampling effort within the full and one-half mean maximum distance moved (MMDM) from each bear's estimated activity center to explain capture probability heterogeneity and inform our estimate of the effective sampling area. Models including the one-half MMDM covariate received overwhelming Akaike's Information Criterion support suggesting that buffering our study area by this distance would be more appropriate than no buffer or the full MMDM buffer for estimating the effectively sampled area and thereby density. Our model-averaged super-population abundance estimate was 603 (95% CI = 522–684) black bears for Glacier NP. Our black bear density estimate (11.4 bears/100 km2, 95% CI = 9.9–13.0) was consistent with published estimates for populations that are sympatric with grizzly bears (U. arctos) and without access to spawning salmonids. Published 2013. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA