Can translocations be used to mitigate human–wildlife conflicts?

Growing public concerns about lethal methods to mitigate human–wildlife conflicts place increasing constraints on wildlife management options. Translocations, perceived as humane and non-lethal solutions, are increasingly advocated to resolve these conflicts. The present study summarises the literature on translocations of wild mammals, with particular emphasis on ‘problem’ animals, reviews the impact of translocations on survival, behaviour, animal welfare and potential spread of diseases, and evaluates the feasibility and effectiveness of translocations to mitigate human–wildlife conflicts. Translocations may have a detrimental impact on survival rates and lead to extreme dispersal movements. In some species, stress-related capture results in substantial mortality. In other species, homing causes animals to leave the release area. In addition, some animals resume the nuisance behaviour at the release site. Individuals that survive a translocation may suffer from malnutrition, dehydration, decreased immunocompetence and predation. Supportive measures such as acclimatisation pens and provision of food and shelter can drastically reduce post-release dispersal movements and mortality, although the adoption of these measures increases the cost of translocation. Translocations have the potential to spread diseases to conspecifics, humans, domestic animals and livestock. Health surveillance, seldom implemented, is likely to add significantly to the cost of translocation. Very few studies have reported the costs of translocations or addressed which stakeholders are expected to pay for translocating problem animals. Alternative management options are rarely mentioned. Despite the perceived humaneness of translocations to mitigate human–wildlife conflicts, the fate of translocated animals has been rarely monitored. In addition, very few studies have mentioned whether and for how long the conflict was resolved. We suggest that determining whether the translocation leads to the resolution of the problem should be the main criterion to evaluate the success of the translocation of problem animals. We propose a list of criteria to assist decisions regarding the suitability, effectiveness and humaneness of translocations to manage problems posed by wild mammals.

Secondary title Wildlife Research
Author Giovanna Massei, Roger J. Quy, Joanne Gurney and Dave P. Cowan
Date 11/08/2010
Year 2010
Volume 37
Number 5
Institution The Food and Environment Research Agency, UK
Pages 428-439
ISBN/ISSN doi:10.1071/WR08179