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1 September 2012 Denning Ecology of Florida Black Bears in North-Central Florida
Elina P. Garrison, J. Walter McCown, Mark A. Barrett, Madan K. Oli
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We studied the denning chronology, den type, and den-site characteristics of Ursus americanus floridanus (Florida Black Bear) in Ocala National Forest (ONF) and the adjacent residential area of Lynne, FL. We monitored 35 radio-collared females for 62 den years from 1999 through 2003. Den entry dates did not differ between parturient females (females that gave birth to cubs during the winter) and nonparturient (solitary females or females with yearlings) (P = 0.139). Females with cubs exited dens later (P < 0.001), and denned longer (mean =113 ± 3.3 days) than females without cubs (mean = 54 ± 6.0 days; P < 0.001). Among females with cubs, primiparous females entered dens on average 28 days later than multiparous females (P = 0.003); however, exit date and duration of denning did not differ between the two groups. Female bears denned in ground nests most frequently (n = 45), followed by excavated dens (n = 7); one female used a tree den. Compositional analysis revealed that denning habitat selection occurred in ONF, with sand pine as the preferred denning habitat, followed by swamp and pine flatwoods habitats. Denning habitat selection was not evident in Lynne, although the majority of females denned in swamp habitats. Parturient females often denned in ecotones with dense vegetation, due perhaps to the fact that such ecotones offer better protection to the female and her cubs from potential predators and weather elements. Habitat management activities should be limited during peak denning of parturient females, from late December to mid-April, particularly in Sand Pine - xeric oak and pine flatwood - swamp ecotones.

Elina P. Garrison, J. Walter McCown, Mark A. Barrett, and Madan K. Oli "Denning Ecology of Florida Black Bears in North-Central Florida," Southeastern Naturalist 11(3), 517-528, (1 September 2012).
Published: 1 September 2012

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