Effects of Exploitation on Black Bear Populations at White River National Wildlife Refuge

Authors

  • JOSEPH D. CLARK,

    Corresponding author
    1. United States Geological Survey, Southern Appalachian Field Branch, 274 Ellington Plant Sciences Building, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
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  • RICK EASTRIDGE,

    1. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, 2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock, AR 72201, USA
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    • South Arkansas Refuge Complex, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Crossett, AR 71635, USA

  • MICHAEL J. HOOKER

    1. Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, 274 Ellington Plant Sciences Building, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
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    • Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, 5652 Highway 182, Opelousas, LA 70570, USA


E-mail: jclark1@utk.edu

Abstract

Abstract: We live-trapped American black bears (Ursus americanus) and sampled DNA from hair at White River National Wildlife Refuge, Arkansas, USA, to estimate annual population size (N), growth (γ), and density. We estimated N and γ with open population models, based on live-trapping data collected from 1998 through 2006, and robust design models for genotyped hair samples collected from 2004 through 2007. Population growth was weakly negative (i.e., 95% CI included 1.0) for males (0.901, 95% CI = 0.645–1.156) and strongly negative (i.e., 95% CI excluded 1.0) for females (0.846, 95% CI = 0.711–0.981), based on live-trapping data, with N from 1999 to 2006 ranging from 94.1 (95% CI = 70.3–137.1) to 45.2 (95% CI = 27.1–109.3), respectively, for males and from 151.4 (95% CI = 127.6–185.8) to 47.1 (95% CI = 24.4–140.4), respectively, for females. Likewise, mean annual γ based on hair-sampling data was weakly negative for males (0.742, 95% CI = 0.043–1.441) and strongly negative for females (0.782, 95% CI = 0.661–0.903), with abundance estimates from 2004 to 2007 ranging from 29.1 (95% CI = 21.2–65.8) to 11.9 (95% CI = 11.0–26.9), respectively, for males and from 54.4 (95% CI = 44.3–77.1) to 27.4 (95% CI =24.9–36.6), respectively, for females. We attribute the decline in the number of females in this isolated population to a decrease in survival caused by a past translocation program and by hunting adjacent to the refuge. We suggest that managers restructure the quota-based harvest limits until these growth rates recover.

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