Short-distance translocation (SDT) is commonly used to mitigate snake–human interactions, yet little is known about its effectiveness or its effects on behavior and welfare of snakes. Between April 2004 and October 2005, we evaluated SDT as a conservation and management tool by investigating how 500-m SDT affected spatial ecology, body condition, and behavior of western rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus) surgically implanted with radiotransmitters in a field study near Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada. Of 14 rattlesnakes subjected to SDT, 12 (85.7%) returned on ≥1 occasion (range 1–7 times) to the general area they were removed from. Rattlesnakes that underwent SDT showed an increase in total distance moved over an active season compared to non-translocated snakes, but there was no evidence to suggest SDT had an effect on activity range size. There was no evidence to suggest SDT affected body condition, behavior, or mortality rates. Short-distance translocation to high-quality undisturbed habitats was unsuccessful as a long-term solution to snake–human conflict because most translocated snakes returned to conflict areas within a short time (x̄ = 19.9 ± 8.7 days). However, SDT may be an effective short-term tool to manage snake–human conflict in areas where human presence is seasonal or short-lived if careful attention is paid to species-specific biological needs, habitat quality at the release site, and the location of the release site in relation to conflict areas.
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Vol. 73 • No. 3