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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Modeling female brown bear kill rates on moose calves using global positioning satellite data

Rauset, Geir Rune; Kindberg, Jonas; Swenson, Jon E


The recent development in Global Positioning System (GPS) techniques has started a new era in predation studies. Estimates of kill rates based on animal movements and GPS relocation clusters have proven to be valid in several obligatory carnivores. The main focus has been to obtain accurate mean predation estimates for the management of wildlife populations. We present a model to estimate individual kill rates of moose calves by adult female brown bears in Sweden, based on spatiotemporal clustering of 30,889 bear GPS relocations and 71 moose calves verified killed during 714 field investigations in 2004-2006. In this virtually single-predator single large prey system, the omnivorous brown bear is an efficient predator on moose calves up to 4 weeks of age. The top model set only included models with cluster radii of 30 m or 50 m, indicating very high kill-site fidelity. The best model included a cluster radius of 30 m and number of periods of bear activity at the kill site as a single covariate. The mean estimated individual kill rate of 7.6 ± 0.71 (n = 18, ± SE) moose calves per calving season is comparable to the estimate of 6.8 from a previous study of radio-tracked moose in our study area, though at a lower moose/bear ratio. The mean annual kill rates varied from 6.1 to 9.4 calves per bear. The estimated individual kill rates ranged from 2 to 15 calves per season, indicating a large individual variation in hunting skills and possibly effort. Predation and livestock depredation represent a core conflict between humans and carnivores in rural Scandinavia. Accurate predation estimates represent an important step in quantifying costs of carnivores and reducing human-carnivore conflicts. Our technique may be applied in the exploration of predation mechanisms and predator-prey interactions, and contribute to the old and global debate of problem individuals in livestock depredation.

Published in

Journal of Wildlife Management
2012, Volume: 76, number: 8, pages: 1597-1606