A significant challenge to monitoring wildlife that are secretive, wide ranging, and at low densities is the need to achieve adequate detection rates. Knowledge of spatial patterns in occupancy and the spatial and/or temporal patterns in detectability allows for stratification of traps and improved detection rates. This study investigated how local variation in habitats affected the detectability of grizzly bears in west—central Alberta when monitored with a fixed DNA hair snag design. Bear hair samples were collected in 2011 at 60 sites across 1500 km2 over six sessions, each 14 days in length, between June and August. Microsatellite analysis of hair samples revealed grizzly bear detections at 25 of 60 sites and 21 individual bears. We investigated occupancy and detectability of grizzly bears at the patch and landscape scales using detection histories and program PRESENCE. At the patch scale, grizzly bear detection was highest when sites were placed near streams with clover and in intermediate levels of forest crown closure. At the landscape scale, probability of detection increased near streams and oil and gas wellsites, especially when food resources and wellsite density in the surrounding area was low. Our results highlight the importance of considering local food resources and habitat conditions during placement of fixed DNA hair snag sites. Detectability was not found to vary over time, suggesting that sampling in west—central Alberta can occur at any time between June and August.
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