Despite low numbers this spring for our Alberta Ord’s kangaroo rat population (see previous blog post here) and some setbacks with foul Alberta weather, the ‘krat research team’ from the University of Calgary has had great success this month monitoring the seven kangaroo rats that were transplanted in June. A mix of adult male and female kangaroo rats were experimentally translocated this spring to new homes in unpopulated, high-quality habitats as part of a research study to learn whether translocations might be used in the future as a management tool to help sustain the population by increasing its distribution in Alberta.
July results reveal mixed success for early establishment. Of the seven kangaroo rats that were translocated to underground artificial nests, three appear to have abandoned the release site immediately and have not been located again, although it is possible that they have established their own nest and burrow system nearby (we will continue to hunt for them in August). Two more have abandoned the artificial nests at their release site, but thanks to radio collars that allow us to track the movements of specific animals, we were able to locate them nearby where they established a new nest and burrow system, which is great news. We hope that the three kangaroo rats that abandoned their nests early have also relocated themselves to new nests, although it will be harder to locate these three rats because they were not outfitted with radio transmitters. Of the remaining three individuals, two appear to have established at their release sites based on the amount of recent tracks nearby, but this will need to be confirmed in August.
While these results appear to demonstrate a moderate level of success, which is consistent with the rates of establishment in July of last year (see here), additional and intensive surveys in August will be required to determine the final fate of our translocated rats.