Black bear translocations in response to nuisance behaviour indicate increased effectiveness by translocation distance and landscape context

Javan M. Bauder, Nathan M. Roberts, David Ruid, Bruce Kohn, Maximilian L. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: Context: Translocation is a widely used non-lethal tool to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts, particularly for carnivores. Multiple intrinsic and extrinsic factors may influence translocation success, yet the influence of release-site landscape context on the success of translocations of wildlife involved in nuisance behaviour is poorly understood. Moreover, few studies of translocated wildlife involved in nuisance behaviour have provided estimates of translocation success under different scenarios. Aims: We evaluated the role of intrinsic (age, sex) and extrinsic (translocation distance, landscape composition) features on translocation success of American black bears (Ursus americanus) involved in nuisance behaviour and provide spatially explicit predictions of success under different scenarios. Methods: We analysed data from 1462 translocations of 1293 bears in Wisconsin, USA, from 1979 to 2016 and evaluated two measures of translocation success: Repeated nuisance behaviour and probability of returning to a previous capture location. Key results: Translocation distances ranged from 2 to 235 km (mean = 57 km). Repeated nuisance behaviour was recorded following 13.2% of translocation events (192 of 1457) and was not significantly affected by translocation distance. Bears repeated nuisance behaviour and were recaptured at their previous captures site (i.e. returned) after 64% of translocation events (114 of 178). Return probability decreased with an increasing translocation distance, and yearling bears were less likely to return than were adults. The proportions of agriculture and forest within 75 km and 100 km respectively, of the release site had positive and negative effects on return probability. Conclusions: Mangers can use bear characteristics and landscape context to improve translocation success. For example, achieving a 10% predicted probability of return would require translocation distances of 49-60 km for yearlings in low-agriculture and high-forest landscapes. In contrast, estimated return probability for adults was ≥38% across all translocation distances (0-124 km) and almost all landscape contexts. Implications: Our results emphasise the importance of considering the effects of landscape conditions for developing spatially explicit guidelines for maximising translocation success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-435
Number of pages10
JournalWildlife Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Ursus americanus.
  • agriculture
  • human-wildlife conflict
  • nuisance wildlife

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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