Bears are not just an interesting animal: because they rely on healthy forests to survive, they are also an excellent indicator of forest health. Aside from the success or failure of forest forage crops (the foods bears eat, such as berries and nuts), other factors that may influence bear mortality include bear population size, new development of human homes and cities, and timing of when bears wake-up from hibernation.
In the Forest Health Index, bear mortality refers to the number of bears found dead from January through August, the season during which bears cannot legally be hunted. These deaths may be caused by natural events, roadkill, bears put down by federal or state officials, bears killed by landowners, or unknown causes.
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