Juvenile Ord's kangaroo rat captured at one of four source sites in Alberta in 2013.

Juvenile Ord’s kangaroo rat captured at one of four source sites in Alberta in 2013.

In 2013 we added two new sites for translocations in Alberta: one in the CFB Suffield National Wildlife Area and one on private lands. Both locations represent high quality habitats that have recently undergone a large population decline, leaving considerable vacant habitat for kangaroo rats. Our crew conducted spring surveys to locate potential source sites for animals and under-populated/unoccupied habitat patches for release sites.

In June, seven animals were moved from productive release sites to one of two release sites using identical protocols to similar work conducted in 2013. The

Captured Ord's kangaroo rat being outfitted with a radio collar to allow researchers to track its movements after translocation and release into unoccupied habitat.

Captured Ord’s kangaroo rat being outfitted with a radio collar to allow researchers to track its movements after translocation and release into unoccupied habitat.

release sites in 2013 represented some of the best (albeit under-populated) kangaroo rat habitat in Alberta, so the research crew had high expectations of successful establishment. Overall, the results of the translocations were mixed. Similar to 2012, all animals appeared to immediately occupy the artificial nest provided at the release site. However, within two weeks, nearly half (three of seven) of the animals had abandoned the release site and were not located again, although it is possible that they established their own nest and burrow system nearby and have escaped detection.

Ord3

Ord’s kangaroo rat outfitted with a radio transmitter and about to be translocated to a new home.

The activity of the remaining four individuals was monitored throughout the summer, particularly through the use of radio telemetry (three were radio-tagged). Within one month of release, one animal disappeared (radio recovered nearby). Another radio-collared individual was observed to have relocated within about 100 m of the release site where it eventually established a permanent home, and later became pregnant, which is viewed as a strong indicator of a successful translocation. The fate of the remaining two is unconfirmed, but it is suspected that they also established permanent burrows nearby based on telemetry data before collars were removed and tracks/sign in the local area. Unfortunately, these two individuals could not be captured for confirmed identification. Fall 2013 and spring 2014 re-visits will attempt to locate any remaining individuals.

MSc student Lia Brands holding a female Ord's kangaroo rat that was successfully translocated to a site in the CFB Suffield National Wildlife Area. This kangaroo rat later established her own underground burrow system and became pregnant.

MSc student Lia Brands holding a female Ord’s kangaroo rat that was successfully translocated to a site in the CFB Suffield National Wildlife Area. This kangaroo rat later established her own underground burrow system and became pregnant.

Successfully translocated Ord's kangaroo rat with a freshly marked ear (blue dye), which researchers use to quickly identify study animals in the field without having to capture and handle them.

Successfully translocated Ord’s kangaroo rat with a freshly marked ear (blue dye), which researchers use to quickly identify study animals in the field without having to capture and handle them.