Happily ever after? Fates of translocated nuisance woodchucks in the Chicago metropolitan area

Elizabeth W. Lehrer, Robert L. Schooley, Jennifer M. Nevis, R. Julia Kilgour, Patrick J. Wolff, Seth B. Magle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human-wildlife conflict is increasing as urbanization expands and wildlife species adjust to living near people. Translocation is often used to manage human-wildlife conflict because it is considered to be humane, yet fates of translocated animals are largely unknown. As an urban adapter, woodchucks (Marmota monax) are a common source of human-wildlife conflict due to their burrowing, foraging, and scent-marking behavior. We examined survival and movements of 27 nuisance woodchucks captured by a nuisance wildlife operator in the Chicago metropolitan area, radiomarked with internal transmitters, and translocated to exurban release sites mimicking typical practices. We also captured and radiomarked 16 resident woodchucks from the release landscape for comparison. Translocated woodchucks moved farther than residents immediately post release with no evidence of homing and most left the release site. Annual survival did not differ between translocated and resident woodchucks. However, survival was extremely low (0.18) compared to previous estimates for woodchucks, primarily due to high predation by coyotes (Canis latrans). Translocation should be used only when other nonlethal methods are ineffective (e.g., exclusion, removing food sources, selecting unpalatable plants for gardens). When necessary, the practice of translocation could be improved by reducing predation risk for translocated animals, either by selecting release sites with low predation risk, or by using soft-release methods, such as acclimation enclosures or artificial burrows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1389-1403
Number of pages15
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Homing
  • Human-wildlife conflict
  • Marmota monax
  • Predation
  • Translocation
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


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