American black bear (Ursus americanus) population dynamics are most sensitive to survival of adult females. To ensure that harvest is sustainable, harvest should be skewed to males. In addition, in jurisdictions with a spring harvest, lactating females should not be harvested. Hunting over bait provides hunters the opportunity to observe bears, yet many hunters have difficulty identifying the sex of bears at bait sites. We evaluated the use of suspended baits to determine whether this technique could help hunters correctly distinguish male from female black bears. We also evaluated hunter knowledge of black bears and hunter familiarity with hunting regulations to determine whether these influenced harvest. The proportion of female black bears harvested at suspended or traditional ground bait sites was similar; however, hunters did not always give bears the opportunity to stand at suspended baits. The suspended bait technique shows promise and should be explored further in a larger study. Using the provincial harvest as the control group (33% females on average), power analysis indicated that a sample size of 1,325 harvested animals would be required in the treatment group to detect a small effect size (10%; i.e., reduction of female harvest from 33% to 29.7%) with β = 0.1. A 20% effect size (i.e., reduction of harvest from 33% females to 26.4%) would require a sample size of 247 harvested bears in the treatment group, and a 30% effect size (i.e., reduction of harvest from 33% females to 23%) would require a sample size of 101 harvested animals in the treatment group.
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Vol. 19 • No. 1