The general public often prefers nonlethality when dealing with problem black bears (Ursus americanus). We evaluated the efficacy of nonlethal deterrent techniques on 62 bears in the Lake Tahoe Basin of the Sierra Nevada range. We contrasted animals randomly assigned to a control (no treatment) group (n = 21), an experimental (treatment) group (n = 21), or a treatment dog group (n = 20). Experimental bears were peppersprayed, shot with 12-gauge rubber buckshot and a rubber slug, and exposed to cracker shells. Bears in the treatment dog group were chased by hounds in addition to the combination of other deterrents. We tested and modeled the effectiveness of deterrents and dogs using a survival analysis with Cox proportional hazards and ANOVA. Relative success was evaluated by the latency of time (days) between treatment and return to the urban patch (RUP). Predictor variables in the saturated model included age, weight, season, sex, distance moved, and treatment. Only treatment remained in the most parsimonious model. However, mean number of days until RUP did not vary among the 3 treatment levels (ANOVA, P = 0.55). In all but 5 of 62 cases, bears eventually returned to the urban patch in which they were captured; 33 of 62 bears (53%) returned within 1 month and 70% (n = 44) of all bears returned in ≤40 days. We conclude that in the Lake Tahoe Basin the most common nonlethal deterrents, used by agencies responsible for black bear management, are not very effective at altering bear behavior over periods of time >1 month.
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