Despite the long history of wildlife rehabilitation and the abundance of empirical knowledge of the behavior and resource selection of wildlife species, rarely does research bridge these disciplines. Such investigations could be of value to wildlife managers and rehabilitators by revealing the suitability of the habitat at selected release sites, the wild activities, behavior, and fitness of the captive-reared individuals, and ultimately the efficacy of the rehabilitation process. Rehabilitated carnivores warrant specific attention, given that they are wide-ranging and may behave in ways that threaten human safety or interests. We investigated the behavior of orphan, rehabilitated black bear cubs (Ursus americanus) during their first year after release by utilizing GPS collars, resource selection functions, and generalized linear mixed models. To understand if rehabilitated individuals exhibited speciestypical behaviors, we included metrics commonly reported in other empirical studies of this species, such as immediate post-release movements, denning chronology, release-site fidelity, and resource use. Rehabilitated bear cubs denned shortly after release exhibited latesummer dispersals, showed preferential selection for certain habitat types based on season, and displayed no inclination toward utilization of anthropogenic resources. The survival and behavior of the orphaned bears in this study suggest that welfare-based captive care and rehabilitation can be a safe and effective practice without habitation to humans or deleterious effects on fitness.
|Publication Title||Human-Wildlife Interactions|
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