American black bear (Ursus americanus) damage to corn crops in northern Wisconsin is managed by capturing and translocating bears away from fields where damage is occurring. Translocating wildlife is often not a preferred wildlife management technique because of the potential return and repeated capture of animals. Hundreds of bears are translocated in Wisconsin annually, but because anesthetizing, marking, and tracking individual bears is prohibited at the time of year that translocations occur, it is not known whether the same few bears are moved multiple times, or if a large pool of new bears continues to be trapped and translocated. To determine if bears are frequently recaptured, we used genetic techniques to identify translocated bears during 2006 and 2007. Of the 520 bears identified, very few (4%) were recaptured. Of the bears that were recaptured, most (71%) tended to return to within 10 km of their original capture locations. Our inferences relative to the direct cause of low capture rates are limited, but our results show that bears translocated from corn fields are not repeatedly recaptured in Wisconsin.
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Vol. 22 • No. 2