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Brown bears in Central Italy: a 15-year study on bear occurrence

AuthorsMorini, Paola; Pinchera, Francesco P.; Cecala, Stefano; Ferlini, Francesca; Nucci, Luca M.; Nino, Oremo di; Penteriani, Vincenzo
KeywordsAppenine brown bear
Bear occurrence
Peripheral distribution
Ursus arctos marsicanus
Issue Date2017
PublisherTaylor & Francis
CitationItalian Journal of Zoology, 87(1): 26-33(2017)
AbstractThe Central Apennine brown bear population, that has been ascribed to the subspecies Ursus arctos marsicanus Altobello, 1921 and is endemic to Central Italy, actually survives as an isolated, small population potentially at high risk of extinction. The population of U. a. marsicanus is mostly located in Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park (Central Apennines). However, the Central Apennine peripheral distribution area of this subspecies is less known and it is presumed that bear presence occurs at lower density. The purpose of this study is to provide a new contribution to the knowledge of bear presence in this peripheral area, in order to enable its protection in the Central Apennines. The monitoring of bear presence was carried out in Sirente Velino Natural Regional Park and surrounding areas (600 km2) from January 2000 to December 2014. Monitoring was conducted by collecting data along opportunistic survey trails in areas where the presence of bears had been previously confirmed by direct observations. A total of 237 records of bear presence were collected during the study period. Distribution of historic bear data reported for the period 1900–1991 for the study area (n = 61) and present data are compared. Data show a continuous presence of bears in the study area during the last 15 years. The monitoring program has also provided evidence of the stable presence of wintering bears and a more or less continuous presence of breeding bears in the study area, although observations of females with cubs were not available every year. Results led us to speculate about a wider than previously expected stable presence of brown bears in the peripheral Apennine range. These peripheral areas of bear distribution, both inside and outside protected areas, are crucial for conservation and more effort must be made to estimate bear occurrence outside the core range.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/11250003.2016.1261190
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