Translocated rat awaiting release into it's new (temporary) home at a site that crashed in 2012.

Translocated rat awaiting release into it’s new (temporary) home at a site that crashed in 2012.

Research and recovery efforts for Ord’s kangaroo rats in Alberta are well underway again in 2013. Spring surveys to confirm potential capture sites for experimental translocations, as well as confirmation of suitable release sites were completed in May and June, and experimental translocations are occurring right now. Unfortunately, as I reported in last month’s blog post, the Alberta population of kangaroo rats has shown a marked decline in numbers again in the spring of 2013, continuing a three- year trend of decline in the province. Most likely, long winters with above-average snow cover are contributing to the declines, which are exacerbated by loss of primary habitat, which is actively eroding sand dunes.

The good news is that our crew has located a number of potential source and release sites for the translocations, and as of June 15, we have been able to translocate 7 animals, three of which are carrying radio collars to collect information on their location and activity. So far, we have confirmed that four kangaroo rats have established themselves at their release site (two of which appear to be working hard at expanding a complex burrow system for their home), one appears to have abandoned its relocation site (although that is not yet confirmed), and the remaining two we believe are still at the release site but have been unable to obtain positive confirmation. Work continues in June to monitor these translocated rats, as well as translocate more individuals to release sites.

Stay tuned and we will post more photos of some of the work as we go.

Underground artificial nest being constructed for the release of a translocated kangaroo rat.

Underground artificial nest being constructed for the release of a translocated kangaroo rat.