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Relocation

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NOTE: This section is geared toward professional wildlife managers. It is not intended for the general public.

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 cross.

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.





 



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