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12 January 2021 The spatial distribution of American black bear–human interactions in Virginia, USA
Katherine C. Malpeli, Joseph M. Kolowski, Jaime L. Sajecki
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American black bear (Ursus americanus; hereafter, black bear) populations in Virginia, USA, have been recovering from near extirpation for the past century. The expansion of both human and bear populations has coincided with an increase in human–black bear interactions. Mitigating human–black bear problems is a management priority of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Although the number of reported interactions has increased, no formal analysis of the spatial distribution of these interactions has been completed for Virginia. To address this gap, we assessed the role of ecological and anthropogenic variables in explaining the spatial distribution of human–black bear interactions in Virginia, at both county- and individual interaction point-scales, from 2008 to 2015. The results of these analyses indicate that landscape features representing the interface of potentially suitable black bear habitat and human development combine to increase risk of human–black bear interactions. Point locations with the highest probability of a black bear interaction had intermediate housing densities (300–600 houses/km2) and forest covered a large percentage of the surrounding landscape. At the county scale, interactions were predicted to be above average when the county exceeded roughly 67.7% forest, 27.2% agricultural cover, and 10.3% developed land. These results, combined with our generated high-resolution map of predicted relative risk, can be used to help target the strategic implementation of management actions aimed at reducing negative human–black bear interactions in Virginia, as well as throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Katherine C. Malpeli, Joseph M. Kolowski, and Jaime L. Sajecki "The spatial distribution of American black bear–human interactions in Virginia, USA," Ursus 2020(31e18), 1-15, (12 January 2021).
Received: 4 July 2019; Accepted: 11 February 2020; Published: 12 January 2021
black bear
black bear management
human–black bear conflict
human–black bear interactions
human–wildlife conflict
Ursus americanus
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