Translocate mammals that have habituated to humans (e.g. bears)
Overall effectiveness category Trade-off between benefit and harms
Number of studies: 2
Background information and definitions
Some animals, such as bears, may exhibit “nuisance behaviour” that may bring them into conflict with humans. For example, animals may attempt to raid foodstuffs at campgrounds and such individuals may then be perceived as representing a threat to humans. Animals may be translocated away from sites where issues arise, as an alternative to lethal control. Such translocations are deemed to be successful if the animal survives and resumes natural behaviour at the release site, does not return to the capture site and does not exhibit “nuisance behaviour” elsewhere.
See also: Residential and Commercial Development - Translocate problem mammals away from residential areas (e.g. habituated bears) to reduce human-wildlife conflict for situations where habituated animals are removed from established settlements rather than recreation areas. Also see Use non-lethal methods to deter carnivores from attacking humans.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A study in 1967–1974 in forest and grassland in a national park straddling Tennessee and North Carolina, USA (Beeman & Pelton 1976) found that after initial translocation, almost half of the ‘nuisance’ black bears Ursus americanus returned to their capture locations. Of 76 translocated bears, 36 were subsequently caught or seen within ≤8 km of their original capture location at least once (all except two of these were ≤2 km from their capture location). In a 2,072-km2 national park with high recreational use, bears were translocated if they exhibited nuisance behaviour (such as accessing human food). Seventy-six bears (66 male, 10 female) were moved a total of 155 times (1–13 times/bear). Bears were released 6–65 km from capture sites. Translocated bears were ear-tagged and data were collated in 1967–1974, from sightings or recaptures.Study and other actions tested
A review of 19 studies in forested areas in 16 states and provinces in the USA and Canada (Rogers 1986) found that black bears Ursus americanus translocated away from sites of conflict with humans were less likely to return to their capture site if translocated as younger bears, over greater distances, or across geographic barriers. Of 15 sub-adult male bears translocated 32–85 km (pooled from two studies), one returned to its capture site, compared to 106 returns out of 145 bears >2 years old translocated 8–120 km (pooled from 12 studies). In data pooled from 12 studies, fewer bears (34 of 79 bears - 43%) that were translocated 64–271 km returned to capture locations than bears translocated <64 km (81 of 100 bears – 81%). In one study of bears translocated ≤80 km, fewer returned when released at locations separated from capture sites by mountains or numerous ridges (5 of 27 bears – 19%) than when released across more uniform terrain (104 of 143 bears – 73%). Translocation and movement data were summarized from 19 studies (16 published in 1961–1984 and three unpublished) of bears translocated due to nuisance behaviour. Bears were considered to have returned home if found within 8–20 km of their capture site (this varied by study).Study and other actions tested