Date of this Version
Biological Conservation 187 (2015) 164–172
As landscapes across the globe experience increasing human development, it is critical to identify the behavioral responses of wildlife to this change given associated shifts in resource availability and risk from human activity. This is particularly important for large carnivores as their interactions with people are often a source of conflict, which can impede conservation efforts and require extensive management. To examine the adaptations of a large carnivore to benefits and risks associated with human development we investigated black bear behavior in three systems in the western United States. Our objectives were to (1) identify temporal patterns of selection for development within a year and across years based on natural food conditions, (2) compare spatial patterns of selection for development across systems, and (3) examine individual characteristics associated with increased selection for development. Using mixed effects resource selection models we found that bear selection for development was highly dynamic, varying as a function of changing environmental and physiological conditions. Bears increased their use of development in years when natural foods were scarce, throughout the summer-fall, as they aged, and as a function of gender, with males exhibiting greater use of development. While patterns were similar across systems, bears at sites with poorer quality habitat selected development more consistently than bears at sites with higher quality habitat. Black bears appear to use development largely for food subsidy, suggesting that conflicts with bears, and potentially other large carnivores, will increase when the physiological demand for resources outweighs risks associated with human activity.