Behaviour and survival of captive‐reared orphaned stone martens (Martes foina) after release in the wild

Mevis, Lieke (2013) Behaviour and survival of captive‐reared orphaned stone martens (Martes foina) after release in the wild. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

It is common practice to re‐release wildlife back into the wild, even though there is
little data on the effectiveness of this practice with respect to animal welfare or cost
effectiveness. The aim of my study was to examine the post‐release behaviour of
captive‐reared orphaned stone martens (Martes foina) and the impact of conspecifics’
presence on this behaviour. Radio‐telemetry was used to collect behavioural and
survival data; a questionnaire survey within the local community and live‐trapping
were used to determine the presence of other martens and to investigate public
attitudes towards martens. Specific aims were to determine: (1) the post‐release
survival of martens; (2) the potential for human‐marten conflict; (3) the martens’
pattern of post‐release ranging behaviour; and (4) the impact of conspecifics’ presence
on this behaviour. On the basis of previous studies, I expected abnormal behaviour
immediately after release, together with a reasonable rate of short‐term survival; but
there was no previous evidence relating to mid‐ or long‐term survival. A total of twelve
martens were released, of which eight were followed successfully for at least 4
months. There was considerable individual variation in post‐release behaviour. Survival
rate was high (0.66), indicating that young martens were able to establish sustainable
home ranges. Released martens did not seem to cause significant human‐wildlife
conflict and only one of the released animals settled in a village. Live‐trapping and the
questionnaire survey indicated that martens were already established in the area and I
suggest that this was why more of the young captive‐reared martens did not settle in
villages. Public attitudes towards martens were generally positive. I conclude that in
the medium‐term, release of captive‐reared martens is acceptable as regards animal
welfare and cost‐effectiveness. However, further work is needed to examine long‐term
survival and post‐release behaviour.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biology and Environmental Science
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL0605 Chordates. Vertebrates > QL0700 Mammals > QL0737 Systematic divisions. By order and family, A-Z > QL0737.C2 Carnivora > QL0737.C25 Mustelidae (Weasels, etc.)
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2013 15:51
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015 13:51
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/47203

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