Food availability influences movements, population dynamics, and harvest of black bears (Ursus americanus) in the Appalachian Mountains. We compared combinations of hard and soft mast indices to black bear non-hunting mortalities in West Virginia, USA, 1980–2004. Mast conditions were inversely related to non-hunting black bear mortalities. We constructed regression equations to predict non-hunting bear mortalities and used Akaike's Information Criterion (AIC) to compare fit of each model to the data. Oak (Quercus spp.; ΔAICc = 0.000), oak hickory (Carya spp.; ΔAICc = 0.251), all hard mast (ΔAICc = 6.41), and hard mast black cherry (Prunus serotina; ΔAICc = 7.06) were considered the best competing models for explaining non-hunting black bear mortalities. Managers may use this data to help explain and predict the importance of hard mast conditions on non-hunting black bear mortalities.
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Vol. 18 • No. 1