Identifying the relationships between human land use and wildlife habitat use is an essential component in any attempt to mitigate human–wildlife conflict and conserve imperilled wildlife populations. We studied habitat selection by Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus) by employing a resource selection function (RSF), using GPS relocation data for 9 bears in 2008 and 2009. We focused on habitat selection in summer when human–bear conflicts are most frequent in the central Japanese Alps. Logistic regression indicated that bears were positively associated with red pine (Pinus densiflora) forest and regenerating lands and negatively associated with both larch (Larix leptolepis) and coniferous plantation. Almost all bears tended to select areas with steep slopes that were close to roads and rivers. An index of human–bear encounter risk, estimated using the predicted RSF map and road density, suggested that only 5.3% of the study area was secure habitat with low human access for bears. Selection by bears for red pine woodlands is one of the reasons for the prevalence of conflicts in summer. We recommend that wildlife managers exercise caution because lethal control of bears in the most frequently selected areas may have a serious effect on the population. Our study, as well as further spatially defined habitat research, can provide information crucial to the appropriate habitat management needed to conserve bears and mitigate conflict in the long term.
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Vol. 24 • No. 1