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Keywords:

  • home range;
  • Louisiana;
  • Louisiana black bear;
  • movement;
  • reintroduction;
  • reproduction;
  • space use;
  • survival;
  • Ursus americanus luteolus

ABSTRACT  Studies of reintroduced animals are beneficial to evaluate the success of reintroduction programs and to understand factors influencing fitness of reintroduced individuals. The geographic distribution of the federally threatened Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) has been reduced to 3 isolated populations due to habitat loss and excessive harvest. We reintroduced 23 adult female Louisiana black bears and their cubs to east-central Louisiana, USA, and documented postrelease space use, survival, movements, and reproduction. Individual females used larger home ranges after reintroduction than they had in the source population (P = 0.037). Spring ranges of reintroduced females were smaller than summer, autumn, and annual ranges (all P < 0.09), which did not differ from each other (all P > 0.60). Survival of reintroduced females did not differ between their first (S = 0.933) and second (S = 1.00) year after release or from annual survival of females in the source population (S = 0.964–1.00). Mean straight-line distance traveled by females from their release sites to the center of established home ranges or last recorded locations was 22.7 km. Six females reproduced after reintroduction and produced 15 cubs. Mean postrelease litter size of parturient reintroduced females (2.5) was similar to reported mean litter size of females in the source population (2.4). Our results suggest that the Louisiana reintroduction program is proceeding favorably; however, future studies should continue to monitor survival and reproduction of reintroduced females in Louisiana. Additional demographic parameters (i.e., cub survival) should be estimated to allow for population viability analysis to determine if the new population is self-sustaining.