Despite a large body of literature that reports habitat use in non-urban areas, we lack a fundamental understanding of how American black bears (Ursus americanus; hereafter, black bear) use habitats in the urban–wildland interface in the eastern United States. This lack of information is problematic for bear managers in areas where bear populations are large and adjacent to urban areas. To better understand characteristics of urban–wildland habitat occupied by black bears, we conducted a study to understand habitat use of black bears in 7 urban areas in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. We fit data from 77 individual black bears with Global Positioning System–Global System for Mobile Communications collars during 2010–2012 in Johnstown, State College, and Scranton, Pennsylvania; northwestern New Jersey; and Beckley, Charleston, and Morgantown, West Virginia. We fit resource selection functions using generalized linear mixed models in R with different combinations of study area, human impact (human density and housing density), habitat (distance to roads, patch size), land cover (deciduous forest, evergreen forest, mixed forest, shrubland, grassland, pasture, barren, open-, low-, medium-, and high-intensity development, woody wetlands, and herbaceous wetlands), topographic (elevation and slope), and other variables (year, period of day [night or day], age and sex of the individual bear). Black bears used habitat similarly among study areas and between sexes. Black bears used forested slopes and riparian corridors in the urban–wildland interface. Black bears on the urban–wildland interface selected habitats similarly to wildland bears within the body of literature. Habitat selection was similar for males and females, regardless of study area, time of day, season, or year. Our results indicate that managers can employ the same suite of management tools to reduce human–bear conflicts at the urban–wildland interface that they use to deal with black bear conflicts in wildland areas.
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Vol. 27 • No. 1