Photo by Jayson Plaxico
Black bears are wide ranging and relatively long lived animals. Consequently, bears spend vast amounts of time moving in search of
food, cover, mates, and denning habitat. Ongoing cooperative research with the University of Kentucky has provided a wealth of knowledge concerning travel patterns and movement rates of bears in eastern Kentucky.
Bears are now being equipped with GPS (global positioning system) radio collars that link with orbiting satellites to remotely collect locations at varying time periods. Research shows that male bears range over areas from 200–500 km2; that is an area of approximately 77–193 square miles! Conversely, female home range size averages about 20 km2, or almost 8 square miles
Such dramatic differences in home range area between sexes are due to two things- reproductive condition and season. Male bears travel incredible distances throughout the breeding season of June and July, while movements by female bears are generally limited to the highest quality habitat available. Female home range area is further limited as they often have cubs or yearling bears in tow. In addition, home range area varies considerably between seasons due to significant shifts in food availability.