Thursday, August 6, 2009
One of my pet peeves...
...is people who have an issue with wildlife (getting into their bird feeders, getting into the garbage, digging up their garden, etc.), and instead of trying to find a way to out-think the animals and deal with it, they decide to "just relocate" it somewhere else. This is a decision made out of either (1) ignorance, (2) indifference, or (3) desperation. There's nothing I can do with indifferent people-- they have no concerns for the welfare of wildlife. And I may or may not be able to reach the desperate, as they may be understandably so. However I want to take a moment to appeal to the ignorant.
The relocation of wildlife should not be considered, except in the most severe of situations in which all other options have been explored and failed. People have the idea in their heads that the animal will happily start a fresh life in a new place without blinking an eye. In fact, maybe they'll enjoy the new change of pace! They believe that it's a harmless resolution to a frustrating problem for them, like having raccoons getting into their garbage at night.
The reality is quite different. Live trapping and relocating animals is a serious situation that many animals never survive. Just because they are humanely trapped and released alive does not make it a success story. Your problems may be over, but the problems for the relocated animal have just begun.
When I worked for a property management company, I regularly had both residents and employees complaining about problems with different wildlife: raccoons, squirrels, opossums, wild boars, etc. I would tell them that you have to be smarter than the animals. You need to try to keep the food sources out of their reach or make it difficult for them to get at. Make things less appealing. Outsmart the animals. I'd tell them that you can't have it both ways: You can't say that they are stupid, unfeeling creatures to justify why you can do things like kill them or trap and relocate them, and yet imply that they are too smart for you to compete with-- that you have no other options. I would find 99% of the time that the people hadn't even tried to outsmart the animals. They were just taking the easiest route. If raccoons are getting into your trash cans, it's easier to just get rid of the raccoons than to adjust your process like storing the cans in a more secure location or using bungee cords to dissuade the coons.
I would tell them that Fish and Game had documentation at the time that indicated that 50% of animals that were trapped and relocated didn't survive the relocation. I would tell them, "Imagine that you're just minding your own business, going to McDonald's, and suddenly a trap crashes closed around you. You're picked up and tossed into the back of a pick-up truck. Then you are driven miles and miles to an area that you don't recognize. Suddenly you are released in the middle of no-where with no supplies. Now you have to find new shelter from the weather, new water and food sources, and you have to fight the people who already live there to get these things." That's what relocated animals are subjected to. They regularly don't survive being thrust into these situations.
And the babies. Families are often split up in these circumstances. Momma is trapped and relocated, leaving babies behind to die a slow death. Or Momma and babies are both trapped, and then the babies don't survive as their mother is forced to try to hack out new territory for them and find enough food for all of them in a foreign location. Raccoon families, which can be quite large and extend out to include mother, father, children and siblings, is split up.
So my final thought is this: Think of "relocation" as a last resort. Try everything else before you get to that point. Do research on the type of animal you are dealing with, and what people suggest for dealing with whatever situation is arising from the animal's presence. Ask Fish and Game what to do. Ask me what to do! I'll do the research for you! I have a book that gives all types of ideas for different kinds of animals.
Read this government document for more information on the perils of relocating, and the government stance against it.
You have to be smarter than the animals. And you are smarter. You just have to stop and take a moment to *think*.