Brown Bear-Human Interactions Associated with Deer Hunting on Kodiak Island

  • Barnes V
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Abstract

I compared distribution and range of brown bears (Ursus arctos middendorffi) with temporal and spatial distribution of Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) hunting activity on westside Kodiak Island, Alaska, to examine impacts of deer hunting on bears. Mean number of bears that annually ranged _ 5 km inland from the coast, or in both areas was 10, 8, and 11, respectively. Bears that exclusively or seasonally occupied the coast zone were usually classed as having moderate or high potential to interact with hunters because most hunter access and effort (>95%) was via the coast. Bears that ranged exclusively inland were considered unlikely to encounter hunters. Animals that ranged in both zones often (39%) moved inland during fall (Oct-Dec) and most bears (70%) denned in the inland zone. Females that denned near the coast entered dens later (x = 22 Nov) than females that denned inland (x = 12 Nov). Two radio-collared bears were known to raid deer-hunting camps and 9 other marked bears were observed by hunters or were located <200 m from hunting camps. Deer-hunter surveys revealed that more than two-thirds of the deer harvest occurred during October-November. About half of the hunters observed at least 1 bear during their hunt. Seven to 21% of the respondents reported having a threatening encounter with a bear and 5-26% reported losing deer meat to bears. Human-induced mortality to radio-collared bears occurred more often near the coast (5) than inland (3); 7 bears were harvested by sport hunters and 1 was killed (nonsport) in a Native village. Deer hunters killed 2 unmarked females in defense of life or property situations in the study area. High bear densities and concentrated deer-hunting activity combine to make conflicts unavoidable. Adverse impacts to bears can be minimized by maintaining low levels of human activity in inland areas and improving hunter awareness of bear ecology and behavior.

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Barnes, V. G. (1994). Brown Bear-Human Interactions Associated with Deer Hunting on Kodiak Island. Bears: Their Biology and Management, 9, 63. https://doi.org/10.2307/3872685

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