Capturing wild animals for research or conservation purposes may cause some adverse effects, which is only acceptable if these are outweighed by conservation benefits. We used information from 3 on-going telemetry studies on the endangered little bustard (Tetrax tetrax) in Western Europe to evaluate the risk factors associated with capture and handling. Of 151 telemetered birds, 23 (15.2%) exhibited impaired mobility and coordination after release, probably related to the occurrence of capture myopathy. Among the 23 impaired birds, 10 (43.5%) died before recovering normal mobility (6.6% of all birds captured). Logistic regression analyses identified longer handling time, longer restraint time, use of cannon nets, and capture of juveniles as inducing factors for these disorders. We conclude that little bustard is fairly susceptible to suffering ataxia and paresia after release as a result of restraint associated with capture and manipulation. Researchers can reduce this risk by keeping handling and restraint time below 10–20 minutes, particularly when using cannon nets or when capturing juveniles.
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Vol. 72 • No. 1