Estimating Black Bear Density, Abundance, and Source-Sink Dynamics in Massachusetts
July 2018 - June 2020
- Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
In the 1970s, black bears (Ursus americanus) existed as a small and isolated population in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. Since then, the black bear population has grown in number and expanded eastward across the state. However, current black bear density estimates in different parts of the state are lacking, as are population estimates. This information is required for informed and successful management of this important game species across the state. We are conducting a capture-recapture survey for black bears using hair snares and molecular techniques to estimate density and abundance and understand how density and abundance changes with different land cover types and levels of human influence. We are also quantifying black bear population sources and sinks to determine areas of population growth and decline. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Amherst College, and Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation are project collaborators. Results from this research will provide information on black bear population dynamics and allow us to estimate the population size of bears across the state. This information will be used in developing a comprehensive management plan for black bears in Massachusetts.