Estimating density and abundance of the central Georgia black bear population using spatially explicit capture-mark-recapture
Ashley, Annaliese Kathryn
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Of the 3 bear populations in Georgia, the population in the central portion of the state is the smallest, and is presumably geographically isolated from other Georgia populations. We used DNA capture-recapture hair-snare techniques to estimate density and derive abundance for the central Georgia black bear population. We analyzed 4 years of data (2012-2015) collected over 4, 8-week sampling periods, to determine bear density across a 1,126.97 km2 region. Using spatially explicit methods (SECR), we estimated female densities to be 0.194 bears/km2 in upland areas and 0.066 bears/km2 in bottomland areas. We found male densities to be 0.117 bears/km2 in upland areas and 0.040 bears/km2 in bottomland areas. We derived overall abundance of the bear population to be 428.20, 412.49, 439.84, and 458.23 bears for 2012-2015, respectively. The estimates of female detection probability from 2012-2015 were: 0.017 (SE=0.002), 0.018 (SE=0.002), 0.013 (SE=0.001), and 0.014 (SE=0.002). The estimates of male detection probability from 2012-2015 were: 0.012 (SE=0.00), 0.018 (SE=0.002), 0.013 (SE=0.001), and 0.014 (SE=0.001). We recommend continued population and harvest monitoring, with particular attention to female recruitment and mortality, as females drive reproductive rates and population numbers.