Wildlife Research Questions
The field of wildlife damage management has come a long way in the past 40 years. But despite those advances (just visit http://icwdm.org/Publications/ResearchWDM.aspx for proof), much more needs to be learned. Regrettably, it seems that most of the research dollars still funds research on wildlife in natural environments. I certainly think that such research is important, but with the growth of urbanization, we need more information about wildlife behavior in human-impacted environments.
To help biology and natural resources students focus on questions important to those in the field of wildlife damage management, I am providing a list of research topics that may wish to select for their own studies.
How about answering the question of how humane is the use of Acetone, Alcohol or other non pharmaceutical drugs in euthanasia? Does the animal die as quickly with this chemical as the registered chemicals and how are they different in their effects?
- Why are woodchuck populations so different in urban/surburan areas than in the wild? Such as the difference between one woodchuck per hole in the wild vs up to six or eight adults at times in urban/surburban areas? One ADC person states, “In Indiana, from my observations over the last 20 years, the reason is because coyotes have severely reduced the rural populations. City groundhogs must live in the available urban and sububan habitat and this causes overcrowding even to the point that their social structures may have changed somewhat. This is not fact just my speculation because I see the same thing here.”
- What are survival rates for relocated fox squirrels in summer vs. winter?
- What percentage of striped skunks may have rabies in an urban vs. suburban area?
- What makes raccoons rip asphalt shingles off one roof and not another? And sometimes return to the same roof the next year? Is it odor? Eg. Pheromones or is it through air flow/leakage.
- Caged trapped animals that have been released, Can they be cage trapped again. Which species are cage trappable again, Which are not?
- Effects of Population control (hunting and Trapping) on occurrences of damage complaints. Do cities that have banned traps have a higher damage rate, i.e. effects in MA after trap ban.
- Survey of economics of loses to wildlife damage in urban and agricultural settings. The impact of trapping regulations on the extent of damage.
- Public opinion of disposition of animal involved in damage complaints, measure the acceptance of lethal control measures. How much damage will the public accept before requiring or wanting the animal problem ended regardless of method. The public has no problem allowing a burglar to be shot and killed if they enter their homes and threaten their family, how do their feel about raccoons in their attics? I know the answer from years of listening to customers and I think it would be interesting to see the results of an unbiased survey.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest books are the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition and The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
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