New paper on translocation of reptiles

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narrowfellow
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New paper on translocation of reptiles

Post by narrowfellow » January 29th, 2015, 12:57 pm

This looks to be a solid review of the evidence with respect to moving 'nuisance' reptiles:
B.K. Sullivan et al. 2015. Problems with mitigation translocation of herpetofauna. Conservation Biology

It appears to be an 'unlocked' pdf that's accessible to anyone:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... .12336/pdf

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: New paper on translocation of reptiles

Post by chris_mcmartin » January 29th, 2015, 3:05 pm

I glanced at the abstract. I agree that the outcome for the individual specimen is usually not good. However, if taken as a bigger-picture effort of getting people to call for help instead of just grabbing a shovel or shotgun, I think a knowledgeable individual who can impart some herp education on such a "nuisance call" does more good for the species overall, outweighing the risk to the individual. Just my opinion.

narrowfellow
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Re: New paper on translocation of reptiles

Post by narrowfellow » January 29th, 2015, 6:25 pm

I'd consider the cost:benefit ratio. If it costs $100 in gas, labor, etc for an employee (whether biologist, Venom One unit, whatever) to make a snake call, and there are a couple hundred calls per year, it could be that in the long run the species would benefit more from using that money to buy land or conservation easements.

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: New paper on translocation of reptiles

Post by chris_mcmartin » January 29th, 2015, 6:56 pm

In that context, then perhaps. From the perspective of herp clubs which provide the service on a free, volunteer basis, the calculus is different. :)

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Bryan_Hughes
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Re: New paper on translocation of reptiles

Post by Bryan_Hughes » January 29th, 2015, 11:08 pm

There are a handful of factors that are touched on as suggestions to increase success rates of translocated animals, but very little research that actually incorporates it. The majority of work I've seen done on the subject doesn't incorporate the single greatest factor in the short-term behavioral impact that leads to death of the animal or immediate return to capture site: method and location of release. If the general body of evidence collected so far is examined with this in mind, we learn something we already know: if you move an animal to poor cover, it will move, often to the detriment of the animal (most often predation) or the success of the relocation. Essentially this: if you dump stressed and sometimes-injured snakes (fire department) out onto the hot ground, they will die: therefore, translocation of nuisance animals is a lost cause.

There is also poor definition of what successful resolution actually is, the boundaries of which is also never a factor it seems. If a snake is visiting site A, B, C, and D in its home range, and that snake is moved to A and D is destroyed, the issue can be solved with the goal of preserving the home range, not removing the animal from it. Likewise, many of the animals found as nuisance animals are in transit, found as a result of some other event (a storm, construction, etc), or otherwise anomalous activity.

It's a complicated and very interesting subject worth trying to solve.

Jimi
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Re: New paper on translocation of reptiles

Post by Jimi » February 9th, 2015, 6:07 pm

Yeah, it's pretty easy to do dumb, and keep on doing it. Much harder to switch gears and start to do smart.

For an institutionalized example of herp translocation, there's gopher tortoises in Florida:
http://myfwc.com/license/wildlife/gophe ... e-permits/

A lot of time and effort, thinking and politicking went into this system (which has evolved significantly through time, and just chewed up any number of biologists, consultants, developers, and politicians). I think it's a major net positive for conservation. Some of you might be interested to read about it.

For example - http://myfwc.com/license/wildlife/gophe ... ient-site/

When I left Florida, the maximum possible per-acre value in receiving gophers ($4K @ $1K each gopher, and 4/acre) was just about the same as the cost to buy raw rural upland ($4K/ac). A semi-wealthy conservation-oriented person could accumulate a pretty decent spread, split the cost (with the state and feds) on managing that land into gopher-suitable condition, and then get his purchase money back from the development community by accepting their dislocated tortoises. A rancher could be given a lot of good reasons to not sell out to a subdivider, but instead increase the forage value (and gopher population...) on his property, with the same split-costs and then get-paid deal. Pretty slick program. I see it is still running strong - that says something. It's a functioning market.

Perhaps some of the lessons-learned could be applied elsewhere. The most common response I get to that notion is "But it's so different here!" Yeah, kind of...but not entirely. Sure, the animals and habitats are different. But people are the same all over. You just have to figure out what they want, and not be all hell-bent on not letting them have it. Make 'em a deal.

Cheers,
Jimi

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