As American black bears (Ursus americanus) reoccupy portions of the eastern United States, it is important to implement sustainable management practices based in a strong understanding of the dynamics of these recovering populations as they expand into areas with increasing anthropogenic pressures. We used the Downing population reconstruction technique on harvest records to establish baseline abundance and population growth-rate trends over 15 years for a population of black bear in northwestern South Carolina, USA. The total population in 2013 was estimated to be a minimum of 412 black bears, increasing from approximately 97 bears in 1998. We established age structure and sex structure in harvest, which were consistent with sustainably harvested bear populations. We recommend using these data as a baseline to determine the maximum sustainable harvest rate for this population. We also recommend future investigation into the development of research priorities and harvest management decisions for the population to maintain desired levels of black bear recovery.
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Vol. 28 • No. 1