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1 April 2009 Anthropogenic mortality of Asiatic black bears in two populations in northern Honshu, Japan

I examined the sex and age at death of Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus) killed by sport hunters or during nuisance incidents in 2 neighboring mountain ranges (Kitakami Highland [KH] and Ohwu Mountains [OH]) in northern Honshu, Japan. Between 1993 and 2000, 1,005 bears were killed in these areas (361 nuisance kills, 644 sport-hunting kills). Nuisance bear removals were 1.3 times greater in KH than in OM. Males removed during nuisance incidents tended to be younger in OM than in KH; older males as well as females made up proportionately more of KH nuisance removals. The monthly nuisance removals varied widely by year in both areas, with the largest yearly variation in September in KH and August–September in OM. Female deaths accounted for much of the increase in nuisance kills in KH during September. Both sexes contributed to the increase in OM nuisance kills during August and September. The number of bears killed by sport hunting in KH was 4.7 times larger than in OM. OM terrain is steep and has deep snow during winter, which largely restricts human settlement and agriculture to the eastern edge of this area. Conversely, KH is gently sloping with less snow cover, allowing human settlement and agriculture to disperse more widely into mountainous bear habitat. Such differences in habitat conditions likely influence the degree of human–bear conflict and hunting pressure. Because the population was isolated and many females were removed in KH, I recommend more careful monitoring of the population by examining the sex and age structure of harvested animals relative to densities and real measures of hunting effort.

Toru Oi "Anthropogenic mortality of Asiatic black bears in two populations in northern Honshu, Japan," Ursus 20(1), 22-29, (1 April 2009).
Received: 4 June 2007; Accepted: 1 August 2008; Published: 1 April 2009

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