Understanding how populations expand to recolonize former habitats is important to restoration efforts in wildlife management and conservation. Translocation of black bears (Ursus americanus) to Arkansas in the 1950s and 1960s has led to recolonization of former bear range in Oklahoma, with substantial increases in distribution and abundance of the species in Oklahoma over the last 15 years. We studied demographics of black bears in southeastern Oklahoma from May 2001 to November 2002 to provide insight into characteristics of recolonizing populations of large carnivores. We trapped 51 black bears (22 M, 29 F) 77 times and radiocollared 25 female bears. Sex ratios of adults and cubs were skewed toward females, and the age structure was younger than observed in other unharvested populations. Survival of adult females was estimated at 0.9??0.1, and fertility was estimated at 0.77 female young/female/year. Density on the study area was estimated at 0.21 bears/km2 and the current finite growth rate (??) of the study population was estimated to be 1.11/year. Demographic characteristics of the Oklahoma population of black bears were similar to those of other recolonizing populations of large carnivores.
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Dynamics of a recolonizing population of black bears in the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma