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Weights and hematology of wild black bears during hibernation

Journal of Wildlife Diseases
By: , and 

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Abstract

We compared weights and hematological profiles of adult (greater than 3-yr-old) female black bears (Ursus americanus) during hibernation (after 8 January). We handled 28 bears one to four times (total of 47) over 4 yr of varying mast and berry production. Mean weight of lactating bears was greater (P less than 0.0001) than that of non-lactating females. White blood cells (P less than 0.05) and mean corpuscular volume (P = 0.005) also differed between lactating and non-lactating bears. Hemoglobin (P = 0.006) and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (P = 0.02) varied among years; values were lowest during 1975, following decreased precipitation and the occurrence of a second year of mast and berry crop shortages in a three-year period. Significant (P less than 0.05) interaction between reproductive status (lactating versus non-lactating) and study year for hemoglobin, red blood cells, and packed cell volume, and increased mean corpuscular volume, suggested a greater nutritional challenge for lactating females compared to non-lactating females during the 1975 denning season. Our data suggest that hematological characteristics of denning bears may be more sensitive than weights as indicators of annual changes in nutritional status; however, other influential factors, in addition to mast and berry crop production, remain to be examined.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Weights and hematology of wild black bears during hibernation
Series title Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Volume 27
Issue 4
Year Published 1991
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Disease Association
Publisher location Lawrence, KS
Description 6 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Wildlife Diseases
First page 637
Last page 642