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Title: Behaviour and survival of captive-reared orphaned stone martens (Martes foina) after release in the wild
Author: Mevis, Lieke
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2013
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QL0737.C25 Mustelidae (Weasels ; etc.)