Problems with mitigation translocation of herpetofauna

Brian Sullivan, Erika M. Nowak, Matthew A. Kwiatkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Mitigation translocation of nuisance animals is a commonly used management practice aimed at resolution of human-animal conflict by removal and release of an individual animal. Long considered a reasonable undertaking, especially by the general public, it is now known that translocated subjects are negatively affected by the practice. Mitigation translocation is typically undertaken with individual adult organisms and has a much lower success rate than the more widely practiced conservation translocation of threatened and endangered species. Nonetheless, the public and many conservation practitioners believe that because population-level conservation translocations have been successful that mitigation translocation can be satisfactorily applied to a wide variety of human-wildlife conflict situations. We reviewed mitigation translocations of reptiles, including our own work with 3 long-lived species (Gila monsters [Heloderma suspectum], Sonoran desert tortoises [Gopherus morafkai], and western diamond-backed rattlesnakes [Crotalus atrox]). Overall, mitigation translocation had a low success rate when judged either by effects on individuals (in all studies reviewed they exhibited increased movement or increased mortality) or by the success of the resolution of the human-animal conflict (translocated individuals often returned to the capture site). Careful planning and identification of knowledge gaps are critical to increasing success rates in mitigation translocations in the face of increasing pressure to find solutions for species threatened by diverse anthropogenic factors, including climate change and exurban and energy development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-18
Number of pages7
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Alternative energy
  • Crotalus
  • Gopherus
  • Heloderma
  • Nuisance animal
  • Reptile conservation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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