The information from tooth collection is used by wildlife managers to determine
- Age structure of harvest
- Age of first reproduction and inter-birth intervals
- Sex composition of harvest
Together this information assists managers in
- Modeling black bear population trend
- Determining sustainable harvests for black bear populations
- Assessing acceptable human-caused mortality rates for black bears in each region
Many states and provinces currently set harvest targets based on the percentage of adult females in the harvest and the mean age of males, as determined from teeth.
In Montana for example, the following criteria are used to ensure sustainable harvest levels: no more than 40% of the harvest is comprised of females, median age of harvested bears is > 6 years for females and > 4 years for males. In general, bear populations with a high percent of females in the harvest and low median ages are thought to be declining.
Presently in Alberta, black bear populations are managed to ensure human-caused mortality does not exceed 20% of the estimated provincial population. Population levels are estimated from expert opinion, number of problem incidents and sightings. Mortality rates are determined from resident hunter questionnaires, non-resident reported kills and enforcement data.
By initiating a tooth collection program, the Fish and Wildlife Policy Branch over time will be able to develop regional estimates of population trend and sustainable human-caused mortality rates.
This will benefit hunters and all Albertans alike by better ensuring recreational opportunities are maximized and potential for human-bear conflict minimized.