Why is relocation seldom done with “nuisance” wildlife?


Relocation of animals is an important tool in wildlife management, but is done only under certain conditions, the most important being that a species is threatened or endangered. For example, if an animal is plentiful where it is being a nuisance, but is rare in another part of its range, it may be a good candidate for relocation.

Most nuisance animals, though, are not relocated but are euthanized. There are several good reasons for this, including:

  • Transferring the problem
    If an animal is a nuisance in one location, relocating it may just pass the problem on to someone else. This is one reason many municipalities actually have laws against relocating nuisance wildlife.
  • Relocated animals may just return
    Relocating many species a short distance can be a waste of time, while some are known to travel vast distances, and may even show a form of homing instinct. For example, in 2003 a lynx was caught in British Columbia and moved to Colorado as part of a reintroduction program. In 2010, it turned up again in Alberta after a trip of 1,000 miles, and very close to where it had originally been trapped.
  • Hostile resident wildlife
     Moving an animal to a new habitat inevitably stresses them, and the biggest cause of stress may come from hostile resident members of their own species. This is particularly common in highly territorial species, often resulting in the introduced animal experiencing constant harassment, rejection and even starvation.
  • Lack of suitable habitat
    Finding appropriate habitat when relocating an animal is not as easy as well-meaning members of the public often believe. And choosing an unsuitable habitat can be a death sentence, particularly if the animal can’t feed itself.
  • Disease control
    Before relocating wildlife, they should be thoroughly tested for transmissible diseases like rabies, mange and distemper. This is costly and time-consuming, plus failure to do so risks spreading these diseases to other populations.
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