Space use and predictive habitat models for American black bears (Ursus americanus) in central Georgia, USA
Cook, Kiersten Leah
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American black bears (Ursus americanus) occupy 5% of their historic range in Georgia. Extensive development will likely occur in the central Georgia bear range. I predicted bear habitat and analyzed bear home range and movement dynamics in central Georgia to assist management and conservation planning. Models predicted annual home range presence in areas of low road density, while habitat diversity was potentially important. Bears crossed high-traffic highways mainly during activity center shifts, which predominated during fall. Hard mast was absent from scat and some males used agricultural areas in fall and winter. Results suggest bears occupy home ranges where road densities are low, cross high-traffic highways mainly during fall and exploit agriculture and common areas, information that can focus conservation actions. An evaluation of uplands and swamps that provide fall hard mast is needed. Landowners, especially in areas of low road density, and local governments are important bear management partners.