Moving Wildlife is Harmful!
(... and Ineffective...and Illegal)
Please, for the best interest of wildlife, never move an animal because you think it would be better off somewhere else.
Though people don't intend any harm, there are consequences to moving wildlife elsewhere. Some of these consequences affect both wildlife and other people.
Reasons Why Moving Wildlife is Harmful
- The animal may try to return to its original area and is likely to be hit by a vehicle or otherwise killed while trying to return. This is a special concern for turtles (particularly rare species) moved by well-meaning people. Squirrels, raccoons and other wildlife can return from translocations of 5, 10, or even 15 miles.
- A relocated animal will have a more difficult time finding food, water and shelter in an unfamiliar area. If food, water or shelter is hard to find or not available, the animal will probably die.
- If food, water and shelter are available, chances are the area is already home to other members of the same kind of wildlife. The established animals will not welcome the newcomer, causing increased stress and conflict within the resident population, as well as hardship or death for the relocated animal.
- If the relocated animal is carrying a disease, it may spread that disease to other animals in the new area. Rabies has been spread by wild animals captured in one area and released somewhere else.
- If your area is attractive to a specific type of wildlife and you move an individual out, others of the same kind will simply move in. Tips for making your yard less attractive to certain wildlife are in our Living With Wildlife fact sheets.
- Certain ecological processes could be disrupted by the introduction of other wildlife. For instance, it's not a good idea to dump baitfish or move fish from one water body to another.
- If the animal being moved has lost its fear of humans, moving it simply transfers a wildlife problem to someone else. Prevention is key to keeping wildlife wild and wary of people. Find tips on keeping wildlife wild in our Living With Wildlife fact sheets.
- If there is a problem with a wild animal, moving the animal does NOT address the cause of the problem. If the cause of the problem is not addressed, it will re-occur. Within a short period of time, other individuals of the same or another species will move in, unless food (garbage, pet food, grain) is removed, and access to gardens, chimneys, sheds and attics is blocked.
- Finally, for the protection of wildlife and people, Massachusetts law prohibits the capture and re-location of wildlife. Often people want to catch a problem animal and release it elsewhere. It is illegal to move any live wild animal from one area to another. This law has been in effect for many years, protecting both people and wildlife.
If you are experiencing damage from wildlife, see the options available for homeowners and other property owners experiencing problems.
Information on methods or techniques to control damage caused by wildlife is also available in the Living With Wildlife Fact sheets or by contacting the MassWildlife District office which serves your community.