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1 November 2011 Brown bear den site concealment in relation to human activity in Sweden
Ellinor Sahlén, Ole-Gunnar Støen, Jon E. Swenson
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Brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Scandinavia spend 5–7 winter months in dens. The denning period is a vulnerable time for bears because they are unable to escape from disturbances without losing valuable amounts of energy. Bears normally avoid human infrastructure when denning, but due to an expanding bear population some bears den relatively close to humans. We tested the hypothesis that bears denning closer to infrastructure selected more concealed den sites, as they do when selecting resting sites in the non-denning season. We analyzed horizontal cover and terrain ruggedness relative to distance from human infrastructure for 49 dens from 32 individuals differing in sex, age, and reproductive status. Bears used dens that were more concealed or located in more rugged terrain when closer to roads and settlements that had potential for high human activity. Our results suggest that human activity affects not only where bears den, but also the smaller-scale characteristics of den sites: cover and terrain. Increased knowledge about anthropogenic effects on bear denning behavior can add to a broader understanding of brown bear habitat use.

Ellinor Sahlén, Ole-Gunnar Støen, and Jon E. Swenson "Brown bear den site concealment in relation to human activity in Sweden," Ursus 22(2), 152-158, (1 November 2011).
Received: 27 March 2010; Accepted: 1 March 2011; Published: 1 November 2011
brown bear
den site
human activity
rugged terrain
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