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Relocating Wildlife

It's a popular myth that nuisance wildlife can simply be relocated. It sounds easy enough, but should be considered only as a last resort after all other preventative measures have been tried and failed. Relocated wildlife has a poor chance of survival, and this action may impact other wildlife already living in the area.

  • Relocation is stressful. Wildlife may experience elevated heart and breathing rates, high blood pressure, and depressed appetites. These factors make them more vulnerable to disease or predation.
  • Relocated animals have no prior experience with new territory, which immediately puts them at a disadvantage in finding food and shelter. Most wildlife species are common and widespread, which means that most relocation sites already have established populations of those species.
  • Wildlife released in a new territory lack the local knowledge to fit in with existing social hierarchies. They risk fights with resident wildlife and exclusion from feeding areas and den sites.
  • Releasing wildlife may help spread disease. Just as we humans spread disease among our populations by traveling, wildlife can bring diseases into new areas when they are relocated, thus impacting the resident populations.
  • A relocation site may not have all the basic needs for wildlife to survive. Although the site may look suitable to us, it may lack proper food or shelter.
  • The combination of the previous factors often causes wildlife to leave release areas. They may aimlessly wander for miles, and have high mortality.

In summary, relocation sounds appealing, but it may be tough on the transported wildlife and can have negative impacts on the existing populations where they are released. In most cases, the best way to resolve wildlife conflicts is to change our own behavior.

Transportation of Nuisance Wildlife

All live-captured bobcats must be released. Other live-captured nuisance wildlife must be released or euthanized within 24 hours of capture or trap inspection.

In addition, native species of nuisance wildlife may be transported and released at an off-site location:

  • within the county of capture and a minimum of 40 contiguous acres, and
  • the releaser has written permission from the owner of the release site, and
  • the transportation of the wildlife does not violate any rabies alert or area quarantine issued by a county health department or county animal service

Nonnative nuisance wildlife may not be transported or released from the site of capture except for the purposes of humane euthanasia.