Relocation involves capturing
an animal and releasing it in a safer or more suitable area,
away from potential conflicts with humans.
Capturing and moving a bear is sometimes necessary and may
be the only non-lethal option in busy human-use areas. Various
factors should be taken into account before translocating
a bear, including the age and sex of the animal, the type
and location of nuisance behaviour, choice of release site,
and the desired outcome of the translocation.
Relocation should not be
considered the "silver bullet" to resolving human-bear
conflicts. Although it seems to be favoured by bear control
agencies and the general public, current research suggests
that adult bears almost always return to their former ranges
and generally do so within a month, regardless of the distance
they are moved. However, the majority of juvenile male bears
(under four years of age) easily disperse when translocated,
as most haven't yet established a home range to return to.
The recommended translocation distance to minimize homing
is between 60 and 100 km. There is also some evidence of
success with the translocation of juvenile females, but
because their homing sense is well established, they must
be moved a minimum of 130 km (Landriault 1998).
More research is needed to
determine the best methods to increase the efficacy of translocation.
Homing bears travel a maximum of 18 km/day. Moving bears
across physiographic barriers may also reduce their homing
ability (Rogers 1986). For both bear sexes and all age groups,
translocation can allow enough time to remove attractants,
so that if the bear returns, it will not have a reason to
stay. According to Landriault's 1998 study, translocation
does not expose bears to increased mortality. She also found
that two-lane highways were not barriers to homing, although
four-lane highways are known to be difficult for bears to
Drawbacks related to translocation
include the costs of fuel, equipment and manpower. Translocated
bears can also experience considerable stress associated
with locating new food sources, security, bedding and denning
sites within the release area, potentially affecting their
survival. Placing a bear in habitat used by other bears
may lead to competition and social conflict, and result
in the injury or death of the less dominant bear.
Relocation is a reactive,
public appeasement strategy and does not address the reason
why a bear was attracted to the area in the first place.
As such, another bear frequently takes the place of the
one that has been removed. Often residents are either unwilling
to change their own behaviour by removing attractants or
are unaware of the need to do so because they believe that
trapping and translocating a bear is a viable resolution
to the human-bear conflict. Bear translocation should always
be accompanied by public education through the control agency.
Repeated intervention by trapping and relocation should
be refused at households that fail to remove bear attractants.