Evaluation of Breakaway Radio Collars on Black Bears in Florida

Using radio collars on black bears (Ursus americanus) has greatly increased our knowledge of this species. Excessive body growth of collared bears can result in neck injuries from radio collars, however; therefore, techniques have been developed to resolve such problems. Three types of breakaway devices were used on black bear radio collars in Florida. Forty-eight collars (Telonics breakaway, TV = 10; surgical tubing breakaway, JV = 11; leather spacer breakaway, TV = 27) were placed on bears in the Apalachicola and Ocala National Forests. Collar life averaged 163 ± 22 (SE) days (TV = 4), 185 ± 21 days (TV = 7), and 399 ± 48 days (TV = 10) for surgical tubing, Telonics, and leather space types, respectively. Collars with leather spacers lasted significantly longer (P < 0.001) than other collar types. No neck injuries were observed during the study.

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