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Welcome to the interactive web schedule for the 2019 Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference! The schedule is subject to change (as of November 7, 2018). Please check back for updates. To return to the main Conference website, go to: www.midwestfw.org.

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Monday, January 28 • 2:40pm - 3:00pm
(SYMPOSIA-02) Translocating Eastern Massasaugas: Approaches and Limitations

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AUTHORS: Bruce Kingsbury, Purdue University Fort Wayne; Jillian Josimovich, US Geological Survey; Monica Matthews, Purdue University Fort Wayne; Sasha Tetzlaff, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Brett DeGregorio, US Army Corps of Engineers ABSTRACT: Wildlife translocation involves moving animals to augment depleted populations or to repatriate extirpated ones, or to move “nuisance” animals from places where they might cause harm or be in harm’s way when non-conservation activities threaten them. Many translocations are occurring ahead of our understanding of best practices, and are often unsuccessful as evidenced by increased mortality or departures from a targeted destination. We have been studying the translocation of Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus), a small, federally threatened rattlesnake, at a site in Michigan near the northern extent of the species’ range. As part of this ongoing research, we have also been exploring the utility of “soft-release”, which involves temporarily keeping some individuals in an outdoor enclosure at the release site in the hopes that they will acclimate to the new environment more readily than those immediately “hard-released”. To date, we have radio-tracked over 50 translocated and resident (control) massasaugas to investigate their habitat use, spatial ecology and behavior. We report on our findings. Notably, among male massasaugas (the group we had the largest sample for at time of writing), residents had a survival rate of 0.72 (+ SE = 0.21), while hard-released snakes had a reduced annual survivorship of 0.40 (+ 0.20) and soft-released 0.44 (+ 0.18). Evaluations of females are forthcoming. These preliminary outcomes indicate that translocated snakes may experience higher mortalities, and that soft-release does not appear to improve that outcome. Given the increased rates of mortality for individuals moved into unfamiliar territory, nuisance animals should be moved the shortest distances possible, and ideally within their home ranges. Massasaugas translocated out of their home ranges will likely experience higher mortality than residents, and translocation efforts should incorporate that result during planning.  

Monday January 28, 2019 2:40pm - 3:00pm