Reported survival rates for yearling and subadult bears in hunted black bear (Ursus americanus) populations in North America are scarce. We estimated survival rates of yearling and subadult black bears from a hunted population in western Virginia during 1999–2002. We captured 307 individual yearling and subadult bears on 2 study sites, and we attached radiotransmitters to 54 (34M:20F) 1-year-old, 52 (23M:29F) 2-year-old, and 35 (8M:27F) 3-year-old black bears. We used the known fate model in program MARK to estimate annual, nonhunting, and hunting season survival for radiomarked bears of each age and sex class. Additionally, we used mark–recapture data in the recaptures only, dead recoveries, and Burnham's combined models within program MARK to estimate survival for each age and sex class. One-, 2-, and 3-year-old female survivorship was 0.87 (95% CI 0.78–0.92), 1-year-old male survivorship was 0.32 (95% CI 0.20–0.47), and 2- and 3-year-old male survivorship was 0.59 (95% CI 0.47 s– 0.71) from the Burnham's combined model. Survival rates for 1-year-old females (χ2 = 6.20, P = 0.01) and 2-year-old females (χ2 = 7.74, P = 0.01) were higher than males in each age category, respectively. Hunter harvest accounted for 98% of all subadult bear mortality during our study. Low yearling and subadult male survival is not likely a cause for alarm due to the importance of adult female survival to population growth and the promiscuous mating system in black bear populations.
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Vol. 69 • No. 4