A bear who’s behavior is deemed threatening is captured, tagged for identification and relocated. If that same bear returns or continues the same behavior elsewhere, it is recaptured and humanely destroyed. A bear must exhibit threatening behavior, such as breaking into a garage or be considered a personal safety risk. A bear simply wandering through town does not warrant capture, so please report bear sightings. They appreciate the information on bear activity.
Over the years, wildlife agencies have tried to solve bear and human conflicts by capturing and moving problem bears. One could easily argue that relocation (translocation) isn’t the best solution to bear and human conflict. Although it can be effective with some bears, (especially juvenile males that are yet to establish a home range), relocating bears is expensive both in manpower and cost, most good bear habitat is already occupied by other bears or people and many relocated bears simply end up dead.
While moving bears appeals to the general public, current research suggests that adult bears almost always return to their former home ranges and generally do so within a month, regardless of the distance they are moved. (Landriault 1998)
In addition, relocation merely treats the symptoms, not the initial problem of bears accessing human food. Whether you move a bear from a problem area or not, the initial reasons for how the bear was obtaining food at that location still needs to be addressed. Other bears will simply fill the void left by relocated bears. If a dominant male bear is moved from a location, for example, typically younger more inexperienced bears will assume that territory.
Almost without exception, bears that have been relocated:
- Return to the place where they captured, likely to resume their problematic behavior
- Remain in their new location, continuing their behavior in a new place
- Are killed in their new locations as a result of conflicts with other bears
- Are killed in their attempts to get back to their original home range territory.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife relocated eight bears in the Lake Tahoe area and tracked them using radio collars. Seven of the eight returned to the Tahoe basin within 18 days, and the eighth was struck by a car. In a study to test the navigational abilities of black bears, researchers and wildlife officials moved nuisance bears different distances and analyzed their movements. The rigors and dangers of being moved to strange country took a toll on the bears released at greater distances. However, 50% made it home from 40 to 75 miles away and 30% made it home from 75 to 170 miles away. The rest either gave up or were killed.