Global Positioning System (GPS) telemetry is a prevalent tool now used in the study of large mammals. Global Positioning Systems either store the data on board the collar or contain a remote-transfer system that allows for data recovery at more frequent intervals. Spread spectrum (S–S) technology is a new mode of data transfer designed to overcome interference problems associated with narrow-band very high frequency and ultra high frequency data-transfer systems. We evaluated performance of S–S GPS radiocollars deployed on grizzly (Ursus arctos) and black bears (U. americanus). We also evaluated variables that influenced GPS fix success rates, with particular focus on animal activity, time of year, and temperature. The S–S GPS collars performed to our expectations and met study objectives; we did not experience any major problems with the data-transfer system. We observed varying rates of fix success that were directly related to recorded activity counts. Using logistic regression, we verified that activity counts were a reasonable measure of resting or feeding–traveling in both bear species. Our results showed that 73% and 79% of missed fixes, respectively, occurred when we predicted black and grizzly bears to be resting. Temperatures measured in the canister of the collar were not correlated with air temperature, suggesting posture and activity influenced canister temperature. Both measures of temperature were predictive of fix success. We did not find that fix success was related to body morphology (i.e., neck circumference, mass, and chest girth), fix interval, position of the GPS antenna relative to the sky, or sex of the bear. We conclude that fix success for both species is strongly related to activity patterns and time of year. Activity counters appear to be a reasonable measure of this behavior, and we recommend researchers consider including an activity-count system when deploying GPS collars. We also recommend researchers explore building separate models of habitat selection based upon categories of activity to account for bias in fix success associated with bear behavior.
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