Behavioral observations are rarely conducted in the field with large carnivores due to their normally cryptic nature, but habituation to humans provided the opportunity to study the daily activities and time budgets of American black bears (Ursus americanus) in Big Bend National Park, Texas. Black bears have only recently returned to Big Bend National Park after being extirpated from the region at the turn of the century, and although radio telemetry and food analysis studies have been conducted on this population, no extensive observational data have been collected and analyzed.
The objectives of this study were to determine if behavior differs based on demographic factors and/or seasons. Field observations were conducted, and visitor observations were also utilized for this study. It was predicted that feeding times would increase as the winter season arrived and that adults without offspring would travel further and more often than sows with juvenile cubs. Visitor observations found no significant variation in seasonal behaviors or demographic factors, but a significant difference was noted between behaviors in spring and summer, as well as between juvenile and adult bears and between juvenile and yearling bears in field observations.
Traveling was the most frequently observed activity in both field and visitor observations, while social and drinking activities were the least-frequent behaviors in both data sets. Observer-directed behaviors were sighted much more often in visitor observations than in field observations. This is probably the result of the attempt to reduce observer-directed behaviors in field observations, while instructions from the park employees to visitors are to scare away bears they come into contact with.
|School:||Sul Ross State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Texas|
|Source:||MAI 49/04M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Big Bend National Park, Texas, Black bear|
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