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BLACK BEARS ( Ursus americanus )

BLACK BEARS ( Ursus americanus ). Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division. Current Black Bear Distribution. Source: Pelton and van Manen (1994). Historical Background in Georgia. 1700-1850 Common as reported by explorers 1880 Limited to forested regions

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BLACK BEARS ( Ursus americanus )

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  1. BLACK BEARS (Ursus americanus) Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division

  2. Current Black Bear Distribution Source: Pelton and van Manen (1994)

  3. Historical Background in Georgia • 1700-1850 • Common as reported by explorers • 1880 • Limited to forested regions • 1900-1930 • Large scale logging resulting in significant habitat destruction • Unregulated hunting or trapping • 1940-1950’s • Chestnut blight • Bears only found in isolated areas

  4. Bears in Georgia • 1930’s • Bear season closed by act of legislature • 1930-1970 • Questionable protection • Limited habitat • 1969 • Georgia Game and Fish Commission as well as hunting community realized value/importance as game species • 1976 • Tri-State Bear Study launched to investigate bears in SE

  5. Statewide Black Bear Distribution Approximate Population Size North Georgia 1,200 bears Central Georgia 300 bears South Georgia 800 bears

  6. Bear Cubs—The Early Years • Born January-February • Weigh about 8 ounces at birth • Dependent on mother for first year of life

  7. The Adult Bear • Average Length (6 ft.) • Average Weight (150-300lbs) • State Record Harvest • Gun Harvest—Nov 2001 (560 lbs, Gilmer Co.) • Bow Harvest—Sep 2001 (530 lbs, Swallow Creek WMA) • Known Largest Bear • Hit by car—Nov 1992 (581 lbs, Union Co.) • Life Span (8-15 years) • Oldest Bear Harvested—Oct 2000 (20.75 yrs, Habersham Co.)

  8. Bear Reproduction • Breeding Season • July • Males may breed at 1.5 years of age • Females breed from 3.5 to 4.5 years of age

  9. Spring Time is Bear Time! • Emerge from dens. • Desperate search for food to recover lost body weight during winter months. • One-year old bears begin search for their own territory.

  10. Bear Diet

  11. Diet (% of diet) • Berries and Acorns • SPRING/SUMMER: serviceberry, huckleberry, blueberry, blackberry, and black cherry. • FALL: acorns, hickory nuts, palmetto berries, grape, beech, and blackgum. • Grasses and forbs • All types of green plants. • Beneficial wildlife plantings • Insects and Meat • Wasps, ants, beetles, and insect larvae. • Recently dead or easily caught animals.

  12. Denning Activities • Enter dens in late-November and December • Females enter earlier than males • Denning activities influenced by weather and food availability

  13. Current Bear Management, Monitoring and Research • Harvest Information • Bait Station Surveys • Nuisance Information

  14. Statewide Bear Harvest

  15. % Females in Bear Harvest (1993-2003)

  16. Female Bear Harvest Average Age(1992-2002)

  17. Bait Station Survey • Designated routes in North and South Georgia • Survey conducted annually in July • Checked after 5 days (North GA) or 8 days (South GA)

  18. Bait Station Survey Summary

  19. Nuisance Bear Issues • Common Nuisance Bear Situations • Wandering Bear • 1-2 year old male • Establishing territory • Habituated Bear • Usually food related • May cause property damage • Agriculture Bear • Just There Bear

  20. Common Nuisance Situations • Residential Bears • BIRD SEED • GARBAGE • PET FOOD • Compost Piles • Fruit Trees and Shrubs • BBQ Grills DO NOT FEED BEARS!

  21. Common Nuisance Situations • Remote or Camping Areas • FOOD STORAGE • SMELLABLE ITEMS • GARBAGE • BBQ GRILLS DO NOT FEED BEARS!

  22. Common Nuisance Situations • Rental Cabins • GARBAGE • PET FOOD • BBQ Grills DO NOT FEED BEARS! DO NOT FEED BEARS!

  23. Nuisance Bear Recommendations • Remove ALL food sources • birdfeeders, trash, & pet food • campground food items • Electric fence around bee yards • Additional tools • Scare pistol • Trapping

  24. Encountering a Bear • DO NOT PANIC! • Be sure bear knows you are there and respect the bears territory. • In residential areas, encourage bear to leave • Loud noises • Throw items • Notify authorities of aggressive or non-yielding bears.

  25. Future Management Challenges Human/Bear Population Dynamics Human Population Bear Habitat Carrying Capacity Bear Cultural Carrying Capacity Time

  26. Keep the “WILD” in wildlife by NOT FEEDING BEARS!


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