Why We Do Not Recommend Trapping and Relocating Wildlife

Why We Do Not Recommend Trapping and Relocating Wildlife

Central Oregon is expanding rapidly and with increasing urbanization comes more instances of wildlife conflict. Whether it be raccoons eating leftover dog food, squirrels nesting in an attic, or beavers felling someone’s trees, we understand that living with wildlife can be frustrating, inconvenient, or even scary. 

One commonly suggested solution that may appear effective is wildlife relocation. It can seem harmless to live-trap an animal and release it in a nearby park or nature reserve. However, research shows that wildlife relocation is ineffective as a long-term solution, and often results in harmful consequences for the animals involved.

raccoon relocationWhen one animal is removed from an area, another usually takes its place (“Wildlife Relocation is Not…”). Many relocated animals also return to the site of conflict soon after attempted relocation. A 2009 study found that relocated western rattlesnakes returned to the place from which they were removed in an average of 20 days (Brown et al. 2009). A study that compared relocated raccoons to resident raccoons found that relocated raccoons left the release sight within hours to days, and denned more often in human residence areas than raccoons native to the release site (Mosillo et al. 1999). 

Additionally, wildlife relocation is often harmful to wildlife and causes unnecessary fatalities. A study of relocated gray squirrels found that 97% of relocated squirrels died or disappeared from the release area within 88 days of release (Adams et al. 2004). Relocated animals have to fight for new territories, find new sources of food and shelter, and can spread diseases to the animals already living there. This greatly decreases the animals’ chances of survival (“Scrap the trap…”). After relocation, animals are disoriented and have to attempt to find the resources they need in an unfamiliar place. They don’t know where to hide from predators, and if released in another animal’s territory, may be attacked or chased out of the area (“Scrap the trap…”).  Relocation also often leaves animals orphaned because parents are usually moved without their young. When full families are relocated, parents may result to abandoning or killing their young to survive (“Wildlife Relocation is Not…”). To this end, Think Wild does not advocate for wildlife relocation, and instead offers alternative solutions to addressing conflict with urban wildlife.

There are other ways to solve wildlife conflict:

  • If a family of animals is nesting in or around your home, wait them out! Denning and nesting season is short, and it’s likely the animals will have moved on a few weeks after you notice them.
  • If you must, humanely evict the animals by gently harassing them until they move. One way to do this is to soak a rag in apple cider vinegar and place it near the denning space. The strong smell will encourage any animals to find a new home. Please note that it is illegal to relocate or disturb any active bird nest. 
  • Once the denning season is over, seal up any entrances or exits to the dens. Animals usually den in spring and summer. Make sure animals are no longer using the den before you seal the exits to prevent any unnecessary deaths (“Scrap the trap…”). 

Think Wild offers wildlife conflict mitigation services, including the recommendations listed above. If you would like to get in touch with our wildlife services coordinator for a consultation, visit this page for more information.

Works Cited:

Adams, L.W., et al. “Movement and Mortality of Translocated Urban-Suburban Grey Squirrels.” Animal Welfare, vol. 13, 2004, pp. 45–50. 

Brown, Jeffery R., et al. “Effectiveness of Short-Distance Translocation and Its Effects on Western Rattlesnakes.” Journal of Wildlife Management, vol. 73, no. 3, 2009, pp. 419–425., https://doi.org/10.2193/2007-558. 

Mosillo, Maia, et al. “Survival and Movements of Translocated Raccoons in Northcentral Illinois.” The Journal of Wildlife Management, vol. 63, no. 1, 1999, p. 278., https://doi.org/10.2307/3802510. 

“Scrap the Trap When Evicting Wildlife.” The Humane Society of the United States, The Humane Society, 2022, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/scrap-trap-when-evicting-wildlife. 

“Wildlife Relocation Is Not a Solution.” Portland Audubon, 1 Apr. 2019, https://audubonportland.org/our-work/rehabilitate-wildlife/being-a-good-wildlife-neighbor/wildlife-relocation-is-not-a-solution/.