Potential productivity of black bear habitat of the AOSERP study area

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  • Potential black bear (Ursus americanus) production was determined for the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) study area using information obtained by radio-telemetry on forest cover use by bears during the two years of study .at Cold Lake, Alberta. Expected densities for each of five forest over classes were calculated using the Cold Lake data. The areas of individual townships comprised by each of the cover classes were determined and multiplied by the expected bear density of each class to provide a population estimate for each township. The crude average bear density for the AOSERP study area, including water areas, was 0.18 per km2 assuming total avoidance of muskeg areas and 0.25 per km2 assuming use of muskeg. The potential entire population estimate was calculated as 5188 and 7431 bears using the two methods. The most productive bear habitat was located along the eastern and southern edges of the Birch Mountains and in the Gregoire Lake area. The poorest potential was in the Thickwood Hills and in the northeastern corner of the study area. Although final population estimates may be biased, township population estimates should provide at least a valid index for identifying important areas of black bear habitat.

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