Understanding the timing of den emergence and departure allows management agencies to establish hunting seasons that minimize the take of females with dependent young, protects denned bears from human disturbances, and extends our understanding of the ecology of these mammals. We determined the mean den emergence date ( = 25 Mar), the number of days at the den site post-emergence ( = 11 days), and the mean den departure date ( = 8 Apr) for female American black bears in Utah, USA, from 2011 to 2013. We analyzed the effects of bear cohort, region of Utah, year, elevation, and weather on emergence, departure, and total number of days at den site post-emergence using model selection and model-averaging. First emergence date (n = 37) differed among cohorts and was negatively correlated with spring temperature. Den departure date (n = 21) differed among ecoregions and was negatively correlated with spring temperature during emergence and temperature the spring and summer before denning. Total number of days at den (n = 21) differed among cohorts and was negatively correlated with last frost date in spring from year before. We also described behaviors observed at the den site. Bears spent little of the late-denning period outside of the den ( = 9.8% of total observation time). When outside the den, bears spent the majority of the time walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. We also observed several unique behaviors including gathering nest materials, nursing, ingesting, and visitation of den sites by other wildlife.
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Vol. 27 • No. 2