Field researchers from the University of Calgary are back in the Middle Sand Hills/CFB Suffield National Wildlife Area again this spring surveying for kangaroo rats (and looking closely for recaptured animals from 2013). Almost one year ago, we were able to translocate a number of wild Ord’s kangaroo rats to unoccupied habitats to learn best methods for increasing their distribution in Canada. Although we were only able to translocate a small number of animals due to concerns with low population densities in some parts of the species’ range, we were quite successful in our attempts to get translocated animals to establish a new home at their release sites.
In particular, we were able to track the status of two individuals to the late summer of 2013, and we were anxious to return this spring to see if they survived. The UofC field crew, led by Dr. Darren Bender, conducted spring surveys in early May this year, but failed to re-locate any of the translocated animals. However, repeat surveys in late May/early June revealed some evidence that one of the adult females we translocated did indeed survive the winter, as we found two young-of-the-year kangaroo rats in her territory! Mom remains elusive, and field crews are back again later in the month to attempt to capture her for a positive confirmation. But we are pretty sure she must have survived the winter since her habitat was very isolated from other kangaroo rats, and the only other individual living in her vicinity is an adult male that we have tracked for three years. Fingers crossed that we can confirm her identity soon!