Human/Wildlife Conflict Management I

Contributed Oral

Assessing the Influence of a Spring Hunting Season on Black Bear Harvest and Bear-Human Interactions in Ontario, Canada
Joseph M. Northrup, Eric Howe, Jeremy Inglis, Erica Newton, Martyn Obbard, Bruce Pond, Derek Potter

Reduction of human-bear interactions is a fundamental to black bear management throughout North America. Increased harvest is often suggested as a tool to reduce interactions between bears and humans, despite considerable empirical evidence that interactions are primarily driven by natural food availability. In 2014, the province of Ontario, Canada implemented a 2-year pilot spring black bear hunting season across select Wildlife Management Units providing a before-after-control-impact design with which to directly test the efficacy of the spring hunt as a management tool for reducing interactions. We assessed the effect on bear harvest and 3 indices of human-bear interactions: 1) the number of calls to the provincial Bear Wise reporting line, 2) the number of calls designated as severe calls, and 3) the number of occurrences (defined as calls resulting in a response by government staff). We controlled for natural food availability in all analyses. Harvests and all indices of human-bear interaction were significantly lower in years with more food. Harvest increased 45% in the treatment WMUs, and only 9% in the control WMUs after the implementation of the hunt. Prior to the initiation of the hunt, all three indices of interactions were significantly higher in the treatment Units. The number of calls to the Bear Wise line increased by 500% in the treatment areas relative to the controls, potentially due to increased media attention focused on the spring hunt. The number of severe calls and occurrences did not change significantly. These results definitively show that licensed harvest, even just prior to the active season when interactions occur, is an ineffective means of reducing human-bear interactions.

Preliminary Investigation of Human-Carnivore Conflicts in Kargil Trans-Himalayas, India: A Case Study of North-Eastern Kargil along the Indus River
Iftikar Ali

Human encroachment into wild habitats increases competition with wild animals for food, shelter and other resources. This inevitable human interaction with wildlife often gives rise to human-carnivore conflicts inflicting a loss on both sides; that is, killing of livestock by wild carnivores followed by revenge killing of the predators. The objective of this study is to assess the pattern and level of human-carnivore conflicts in villages along the Indus river in north-eastern Kargil, India. Data were collected using semi-structured and structured questionnaire schedules. Two hundred and fifteen households were interviewed across 6 villages and a total of 75 livestock depredation events were reported for the year 2014-15. With the frequency of 53% and 15% of the total livestock loss attributed to Tibetan wolves (Canis lupus chanco) and Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) respectively, they were the predators primarily responsible for livestock depredation followed by Tibetan fox (Vulpes vulpes ferrilata) with 12%. Feral dogs have been reported to feed on livestock, generating a new problem for wild-carnivore conservation efforts along the study area. They were responsible for ⁓10% of the total livestock kills reported and ranked 4th in terms of most problematic predators in north-eastern Kargil. Delay in compensation for livestock loss from respective government and non-government organisations and the economic burden by livestock loss instil a feeling of anger among the local communities, sometimes resulting in retaliation killings of wild carnivores. Although this study generates a piece of baseline information from an unexplored area in terms of human-carnivore conflicts, there is a great need for intensive studies, in the future, to understand and implement concrete conservation action plans in the region.

Effects of Translocation on Survival of Nuisance American Black Bears
Javan Bauder, David Ruid, Nathan Roberts, Bruce Kohn, Maximilian Allen

Effective mitigation of human-wildlife conflict should aim to reduce conflicts while also minimizing wildlife mortality. Translocation is often used to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, but translocated individuals may have reduced survival, which could negatively affect population growth and social acceptance of translocation as a management tool. Yet non-translocated nuisance individuals may also have low survival due to inherent risks associated with nuisance behavior. We used a 38-year data set of 1,233 marked and translocated nuisance American black bears (Ursus americanus) as a model system with which to evaluate the impacts of translocation on nuisance bear survival. We used multi-state mark-recapture models to estimate annual harvest and non-harvest mortality rates and tested for effects of translocation distance and harvest rate on recapture and both mortality rates. Recapture probability increased with translocation distance but 75% of translocated bears were translocated ≤75 km and recapture probabilities were <0.05 across these distances. Survival was 0.43 for adult males, 0.56 for adult females, and 0.38–0.40 for yearlings. However, increasing translocation distance reduced both harvest- and non-harvest mortality (β = -0.0044, 95% CI = -0.0081–-0.0006 and β = -0.0020, 95% CI = -0.0051–0.0011, respectively) showing that increasing translocation distance does not negatively impact survival. Our survival estimates were generally lower than those reported for non-nuisance American black bear populations (0.67–0.83) which likely reflects risks associated with nuisance behavior, such as proximity to human dwellings, agriculture, or roads which in turn may increase harvest and/or road mortality. Our results show that translocation is a useful approach for mitigating human-bear conflict that does not always negatively affect survival. Lower survival of nuisance bears suggests that biologists should focus efforts on reducing the incidences of human-wildlife conflicts (e.g., removing anthropogenic food sources).

Survival of Translocated Nuisance Coyotes in the Chicago Metropolitan Area: Implications for Urban Wildlife Management
Charlotte Milling, Stanley Gehrt, Chris Anchor

For nuisance animals, the general public perceives translocation to be a humane alternative to lethal control measures, but it is rarely carried out by a wildlife biologist familiar with the individual requirements of the animal to ensure a successful outcome. In fact, survival of translocated nuisance animals can be quite low for a variety of reasons but is seldom quantified, particularly for “common” species whose relocation generally serves a social rather than conservation purpose. Our objective was to determine the survival of translocated coyotes (Canis latrans) in Cook County, IL by opportunistically fitting 13 nuisance, translocated coyotes of all age classes and sexes with VHF collars prior to their release. We compared survival for 14-weeks post-collaring for our translocated animals to that of 83 unmoved coyotes in the same county and used Cox proportional-hazards models to evaluate the influence of translocation status, sex, age class, and collar season on survival. Of the 13 translocated coyotes, 8 died within 14 weeks of collaring (4 due to vehicle collisions, 1 due to trapping, and 3 of unknown causes) and 5 animals were lost. Consequently, our survival over this period was 0.00, relative to 0.88 for our unmoved coyotes. According to our CPH models, translocation status was the only significant factor contributing to reduced survival of our translocated animals (p<0.001). Even under an optimistic scenario, where all censored animals are assumed to have survived, survival of translocated animals was considerably lower than among unmoved animals at 0.38. These results indicate that translocation likely does not provide for a more successful outcome for nuisance individuals than an approved euthanasia. If the risk to people and property is low and animal welfare is a local concern, non-lethal methods of reducing conflict, including education and behavior modification of humans, should be considered before translocation.

Effects of Boat Motor Sound on Bluegill Sunfish Nesting Behavior
Lily Hall, Allen Mensinger

Although anthropogenic activity and sound levels have been increasing in freshwater ecosystems, their effect on freshwater species is relatively unexplored. Boat motor sound is a prominent stimulus that the recreational use of lakes adds to the freshwater soundscape. Bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) are a common target of anglers and therefore can experience frequent anthropogenic sound. This study’s objective was to examine the effects boat motor sound has on nesting bluegills using an underwater array equipped with a hydrophone, video camera, and underwater speaker. Nest rim circling is a prominent behavior of nesting bluegills that functions to aerate the eggs and increase vigilance. This behavior was monitored before, during, and after each sound trial. Nests were exposed to either shorter, frequent playbacks of boat motor sound (6 x 30 sec playback with 5 min intersound intervals) or longer duration, less frequent playback (3 x 5 min playback with 30 min intersound intervals). There was a significant decrease in the number of rim circles per minute during the 30 sec playback trials; however, the decrease in the number of rim circles per minute was not significant during the 5 min playback trials. Additionally, bluegills did not significantly orient towards the speaker. Thus, short and frequent anthropogenic sound appears to disrupt bluegill nesting behavior; however, it is hypothesized that the fish habituate to longer duration sound and resume nest circling prior to the sound ending. Any reduction in rim circling in the presence of boat motor sound could decrease reproductive fitness by compromising egg aeration and nest defense. Further research will replace the sound playback trials with a motorized boat to better replicate boat use. Examining these behavioral responses will help investigate if sound from recreational boat use disrupts bluegill nesting behavior and may lead to boating restrictions during nesting seasons.

Refuge Within a Refuge: Do Bears Respond to Limiting Human Access?
Elise Loggers, Andrea Litt, Frank van Manen, Mark Haroldson, Kerry Gunther

Humans can exert direct and indirect influences on wildlife.  Even in protected areas, human recreation can displace wildlife from important resources, potentially leading to negative effects on fitness.  Regulating human access within protected areas may provide wildlife with a refuge within a refuge.  Wildlife managers use seasonal area closures or access restrictions to mitigate human effects on wildlife, but we often know little about whether animals use such closures.  To address this information gap, we modeled resource selection of grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in Yellowstone National Park where human access to specific areas (Bear Management Areas) is restricted to reduce human-caused displacement of bears from areas with important food resources.  We built step-selection functions for different seasons and then tested whether grizzly bears chose areas while human access was restricted or whether the inherent nature of these areas influenced selection.  We found that bears selected for these areas in general, and particularly when access restrictions were in place, but that selection differed between male and female grizzly bears and changed throughout the non-denning period.  Females showed greater strength of selection for closed areas during late spring and early summer, whereas males had a greater strength of selection in early spring and late summer.  Our findings indicate that grizzly bears prefer areas where risk of human disturbance is low, even in already protected areas.  With increasing recreation pressures in many protected areas worldwide, seasonal access regulations can be a valuable tool to preserve wildlife access to key resources and manage human-wildlife conflict.

Contributed Oral
Location: Virtual Date: November 3, 2021 Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm