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Behind the scenes with black
bears
Dana Sanchez
Extension Wildlife Specialist
Assoc. Prof. in Dept. of Fisheries and Wildl...
Bears, generally
 Large, stocky, heavy-bodied
 Males 150-300 lbs., up to 617!
 Females 100-264 lbs.
 Short, rounded, e...
Making tracks…
Black bears
 25-30 thousand in Oregon (ODFW estimate)
 Largest carnivores existing in Oregon
 Occur from Cascades west ...
Black bear habitat use
 Usually associated with forested areas
Especially with water nearby
“Early seral” stage
Unders...
Black bear activity habits
 Spring-autumn:
Most active in day and during “crepuscular” hours (dawn &
dusk)
 Month befor...
Home range
 Area traversed to obtain resources needed for daily needs:
Food, water, cover
 And...resources for life cycl...
Home range
 Ranges of males usually 2x larger (or more) than females
 Lots of overlap among ranges, especially around ri...
Black bear diet:
Tale of the teeth
 Largely herbivorous (plants)
 Spring: grasses, forbs, newborn ungulates
 Summer: be...
Anybody home?
 Tracks in soft or wet soil
 Scat – varies by what is being
eaten
 Communication via:
 “straddle bushes”...
Black bear facts of life
 Mate in June-July
 Females can breed at 2yrs old (30%)
More commonly breed by 3 (80%)
Defini...
Black bear facts of life
 Fertilized eggs don’t implant until Nov-Dec
 Young born during mother’s dormancy (late Jan-ear...
Denning & winter
 Dens typically under (or in) stumps, logs, hillsides, rock caves
Can use culverts, abandoned buildings...
Denning & winter
 Sex and age classes may enter dens at different times
 Example in mild climate of SW Washington:
Adul...
Denning & winter
 Plant phenology (plant growth timing & trend) likely another
trigger to entering dens & dormancy
 Alon...
Dormancy
 No feeding
 No urination or defecation
 Body temperature remains near active normal – slight lowering
 Respi...
Oh, wouldn’t you like to be my…neighbor?
Humans
 Valley bottoms and
associated slopes
 Surround selves with habitat
impr...
Safely sharing the woods
 Never feed a wild animal
 Store all food & toiletries & garbage in bear-proof containers
 Don...
Safely encountering each other
 Never feed a wild animal
 Give bear a way to escape – Don’t crowd it!
 Stay calm
 Don’...
Conflicts arise when:
 Animals get into & occupy structures
 Animals eat what we don’t want them to:
Ornamentals
Perso...
Basic tactics in wildlife-human conflict
management
• Prevent the problem
• Block
• Deter
• Remove the animal(s)
*Change t...
Conflict ingredients in sub/urban areas
 Risks to both bears and humans increase with overlap of
human & bear areas
 Foo...
Habituation can be deadly, damaging, and
dangerous
 “Fed bears are dead bears”
Food conditioning can lead to habituation...
“Conflict bears”
“a bear that acts on its learnt behaviour to such an
extent that it produces a threat to human safety
and...
Keep Wildlife WILD!
Conflict ingredients on agricultural &
forestry lands
 Bears opportunistically feed on crops
Grains, legumes, corn, frui...
Conflict ingredients on recreational lands
 Bears learn to associate humans, packs, cars, camps, &
garbage with food
 Lo...
 Rubber bullets (permit from ODFW)
 Hazing with bear dogs
 Professionals using bangers,
screamers, shell-crackers, prop...
Key resources to maintaining good relations
 Manage human behavior
Human conversations spanning
community-scale
View to...
Why not just move them as a 1st option?
 Low survival
Intra-specific aggression
Vulnerable to predation
Homing behavio...
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Behind the Scenes With Black Bears

Wildlife Biologist Dana Sanchez presented on black bears

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Behind the Scenes With Black Bears

  1. 1. Behind the scenes with black bears Dana Sanchez Extension Wildlife Specialist Assoc. Prof. in Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife Dana.Sanchez@Oregonstate.edu http://fw.oregonstate.edu/content/extension-wildlife extension.oregonstate.edu Jitze Couperus CCL 2007
  2. 2. Bears, generally  Large, stocky, heavy-bodied  Males 150-300 lbs., up to 617!  Females 100-264 lbs.  Short, rounded, erect ears  Long, curved claws – longer in front  Massive skulls  Heterodont teeth – teeth for multiple food types  5-toed and plantigrade (flat-footed)  Solitary except in mating season or female with cubs  Omnivores (eat many types of foods)  “slow breeders” Denali N.P. CCLDavid Mitchell 2012 CCL
  3. 3. Making tracks…
  4. 4. Black bears  25-30 thousand in Oregon (ODFW estimate)  Largest carnivores existing in Oregon  Occur from Cascades west to Pacific Ocean & in Wallowa and Blue Mountains  Range of coat colors: black, brown, blonde/cinnamon, or white/”blue”  Black & brown can occur in same litter  Live up to 20 years  “Opportunistic omnivores”
  5. 5. Black bear habitat use  Usually associated with forested areas Especially with water nearby “Early seral” stage Understory includes shrubs, grasses, forbs (wildflowers)  In timber managed landscapes, select for clearcuts that have regrown into shrubland over 7-12 years  Shift vegetation types to follow food availability & types
  6. 6. Black bear activity habits  Spring-autumn: Most active in day and during “crepuscular” hours (dawn & dusk)  Month before & month after winter dormancy: Less active, and more nocturnal (night time movement)
  7. 7. Home range  Area traversed to obtain resources needed for daily needs: Food, water, cover  And...resources for life cycle: Access to mates, safety for cubs  Home range sizes expand in “bad” years: Herbaceous foods unavailable, sparse, or run out early due to drought Poor berry years Poor nut or “mast” years Other regionally traditional foods fail: e.g., salmon, fawns/calves, etc.  Wide range of range sizes estimated 1,300->78,000 acres
  8. 8. Home range  Ranges of males usually 2x larger (or more) than females  Lots of overlap among ranges, especially around rich localized food sources  Examples: salmon streams, garbage dumps, berry patches  Females with young the least tolerant of other bears in area  Most conflicts end with displays rather than bear-on-bear contact  Range size varies inversely with habitat quality (food)  As conditions get better, range can get smaller
  9. 9. Black bear diet: Tale of the teeth  Largely herbivorous (plants)  Spring: grasses, forbs, newborn ungulates  Summer: berries, fruits, insects, larvae  Spawning fish, where available  Fall: Acorns, nuts, berries  “hyperphagy” to store fat for winter  Emphasis on high protein & fat  Crunch times:  Spring: recovery from dormancy  Fall: store fat for winter  Opportunistic:  Remains of hunted animals  Human-provided foods  Crops (plant or animal), garbage, birdseed, bees, etc….
  10. 10. Anybody home?  Tracks in soft or wet soil  Scat – varies by what is being eaten  Communication via:  “straddle bushes” – urination on low vegetation spring-fall Males esp. May-June  Marking trees & poles Rubbing & biting Hair snared
  11. 11. Black bear facts of life  Mate in June-July  Females can breed at 2yrs old (30%) More commonly breed by 3 (80%) Definitely breeding by 4.5-5.5 years of age (100%)  Litter size commonly 2 or 3, but can range up to 5  Typically 2 yrs. between litters, can be up to 4
  12. 12. Black bear facts of life  Fertilized eggs don’t implant until Nov-Dec  Young born during mother’s dormancy (late Jan-early Feb) Naked, blind, helpless young .4-.6 lbs.. & <8 inches at birth Rapid growth: 8.8 lbs. when Mom emerges from den Up to 70lbs by 9 months of age!  Young den with mother 1st winter Generally stick with mother until at least 16-17 months old
  13. 13. Denning & winter  Dens typically under (or in) stumps, logs, hillsides, rock caves Can use culverts, abandoned buildings, slash piles, & unsheltered depressions  Well-shielded by dense vegetation In cold regions, may orient entrance N or W to allow snow insulation North American Bear Center
  14. 14. Denning & winter  Sex and age classes may enter dens at different times  Example in mild climate of SW Washington: Adult females: 21 Oct – 5 Nov Yearlings: 5-20 Nov Adult males: 15-30 Nov  However, more overlap in colder climates  Reverse order of emergence: males, then new 2-yr olds, then females  Females with cubs tend to stay close to den for few weeks  Plant phenology (plant growth timing & trend) likely another trigger
  15. 15. Denning & winter  Plant phenology (plant growth timing & trend) likely another trigger to entering dens & dormancy  Along with availability of other food  Rapid snowmelt and/or temps > 50F can trigger emergence  Large/older males may activate & emerge periodically
  16. 16. Dormancy  No feeding  No urination or defecation  Body temperature remains near active normal – slight lowering  Respiration slows (43% of active rate)  Heart rate slows (66% of active rate)  Adults shed foot pads
  17. 17. Oh, wouldn’t you like to be my…neighbor? Humans  Valley bottoms and associated slopes  Surround selves with habitat improvements (gardens, orchards, small animals, bird feeders, etc.)  Produce garbage, garden waste, downed fruit, & sometimes feed domestic animals outdoors Bears  Prime bear areas!  Excellent! Bears also appreciate these features.  More benefits for bears!
  18. 18. Safely sharing the woods  Never feed a wild animal  Store all food & toiletries & garbage in bear-proof containers  Don’t bury garbage  Make noise moving through the woods – no surprises!  Keep dogs leashed  Carry bear spray & know how to use it  See cubs? Leave.
  19. 19. Safely encountering each other  Never feed a wild animal  Give bear a way to escape – Don’t crowd it!  Stay calm  Don’t run or make sudden movements  Back away slowly, avoiding direct eye contact  IN UNLIKELY attack, Fight back. Shout! Be aggressive! Throw rocks!  Report approaches &/or “bluff charges” to ODFW & OSP
  20. 20. Conflicts arise when:  Animals get into & occupy structures  Animals eat what we don’t want them to: Ornamentals Personal food Production crops (plant or animal)  Animals cause structural damage or loss Structures or crops  Animals pose a physical risk direct or indirect
  21. 21. Basic tactics in wildlife-human conflict management • Prevent the problem • Block • Deter • Remove the animal(s) *Change the game & combine tactics over time– – Remove the “draw”, increase the perception of risks/costs to the animal, and make it tough to access
  22. 22. Conflict ingredients in sub/urban areas  Risks to both bears and humans increase with overlap of human & bear areas  Food “rewards” from humans: garbage, unlimed/cold compost, gardens, pet food, bird seed, downed fruit, berries, urban chickens-rabbits-berries…, bbqs!  Bears ranging through areas frequented by humans Increased chances of bear – human encounters  Potential property damage arising from foraging behavior
  23. 23. Habituation can be deadly, damaging, and dangerous  “Fed bears are dead bears” Food conditioning can lead to habituation  A wild animal is always a wild animal  Habituation often centers on food Decreased fear of humans Increased aggressiveness for food or space Competition with/elimination of domestic “competitors” Disease or waste products
  24. 24. “Conflict bears” “a bear that acts on its learnt behaviour to such an extent that it produces a threat to human safety and property when seeking human food and/or garbage” Ciarniello, L.M., and B. Westworth. 1997. Reducing human-bear conflicts: Solutions through better management of non-natural foods. Westworth, Brusnyk & Associates
  25. 25. Keep Wildlife WILD!
  26. 26. Conflict ingredients on agricultural & forestry lands  Bears opportunistically feed on crops Grains, legumes, corn, fruit, bees….  Bears strip bark from trees to eat cambium and obtain sap May be associated with poor conditions (bear & food supply) Seems habitual to some bears/populations Especially damaging to Douglas fir plantations & reforestation Can kill up to 30 trees/ac
  27. 27. Conflict ingredients on recreational lands  Bears learn to associate humans, packs, cars, camps, & garbage with food  Loose dogs, faced with bear, often “lead” bear back to the humans!  Personal care toiletries smell sweet – store like food & garbage to limit scent & access
  28. 28.  Rubber bullets (permit from ODFW)  Hazing with bear dogs  Professionals using bangers, screamers, shell-crackers, propane cannons Need a permit from State Fire Marshal, signed by ODFW biologists. & Oregon State Fire Marshal at: (503) 373-1871, x272 or x274 Hazing: Deter with shock and awe
  29. 29. Key resources to maintaining good relations  Manage human behavior Human conversations spanning community-scale View to maintain a conflict-free status – Step 1: Anticipate and PREVENT problems!  Engage with local wildlife professionals: District Biologists Steve George & Corey Heath 541-388-6363  ODFW’s excellent “Living with Wildlife” page on black bears  http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/b lack_bears.asp
  30. 30. Why not just move them as a 1st option?  Low survival Intra-specific aggression Vulnerable to predation Homing behavior = risks along the way Likely to starve, do poorly  Disrupt resident population of natives  *Moving non-native invasives  Illegal in many cases  Disease transmission  Ethical issue of “moving the problem”

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