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Monday, January 29 • 3:20pm - 3:40pm
CARNIVORES: The American Black Bear and Baited Hair-snares: A Quantitative Ethogram and Behavioral Analysis

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AUTHORS. Steven Gurney, Jennifer B. Smith, David M. Williams - Boone and Crockett Quantitative Wildlife Center, Michigan State University; Dwayne R. Etter, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT. Studying cryptic or elusive wildlife can be difficult, especially when species occur at low densities or inhabit densely vegetated habitats. Non-invasive hair sampling techniques are often used to estimate population size and characteristics of such species. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources uses genetic analysis of collected hair samples to estimate abundance and density of black bears (Ursus americanus) in the northern Lower Peninsula. However, low detection rates of black bears at hair-snares may limit our ability to accurately and precisely estimate density. Our goal was to explore possible factors driving low bear detection by examining the behavioral ecology of bears from trail camera data. We deployed corral style hair-snares and trail cameras at 40 sites across the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Using video data from the trail cameras, we developed an ethogram based on frequently occurring behaviors and quantified time budgets. We reviewed and quantified 1,161 occurrences of behavior for a total of 12,007 seconds of behavioral data. We found that the number of samples collected during a sampling occasion was positively correlated with the number of bear visits. There was a significant difference between the frequencies of visit locations (outside of snare, crossing wire, inside of snare) between snares with low amounts of samples (=11) and snares with high amounts (=18). Additionally, we did not find any difference in how bears cross the wires between occasions that produced low numbers of samples and high. We found no significant difference among bear behavior frequencies and study area, bait combination, or number of samples. By explicitly profiling bear behavior at snare sites, our results suggest homogeneity in bear behavior at barbed-wire corral hair traps. Our findings can be used by management to help improve snare design and ultimately increase detection probabilities.

Monday January 29, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm CST