Survival and Mortality
Black bears can live for over 25 years in the wild. Because black bears are such a long-lived animal with low reproductive rates, adult mortalities are especially harmful to growth and persistence of small bear populations like we have in Mississippi. Mortality of black bears can be attributed to both human and natural causes. Natural causes of mortality include disease, cannibalism/infanticide (adult bears killing one another/adult bears killing cubs, both typically by adult males), drowning, maternal care accidents, and climbing accidents. Human-induced causes of mortality include habitat destruction, hunting, trapping, poaching, vehicle collisions, electrocution, and deaths associated with research activities. The highest mortality within a black bear population occurs from the time of dispersal (about 18 months of age) until sexual maturity and establishment of a home range (about 3 to 5 years of age).