Winter denning is a critical component of American black bear (Ursus americanus) ecology. Mississippi has a small recolonizing population (about 50 individuals), including the federally-threatened Louisiana black bear (U. a. luteolus), and knowledge of den use is needed to effectively conserve the species. We quantified black bear denning chronology (n = 15) and den use (n = 18) in Mississippi during 2005–2011. Denning was highly variable and females entered dens earlier than males and emerged later; multiple den use by both sexes in a single winter was common. We recorded equal numbers of tree and ground dens, with ground dens at higher elevations surrounded by dense vegetation. With the exception of all bears denning each winter, black bears in Mississippi exhibited denning chronology and characteristics similar to other black bear populations in the southeastern United States.
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Vol. 23 • No. 1