The Outcomes of Wildlife Relocation

Understanding Solutions to Wildlife Conflict

As cities expand and natural habitat is reduced, increased urbanization has led to a rise in human-wildlife conflict. Translocation—relocating wildlife to another area—is a common technique for managing wildlife conflict. Yet little is known about what happens to “nuisance” animals once they’re released. These animals often originate in urban and suburban residential areas and are released into new rural habitats…an approach that could introduce a new set of challenges for the animal.

Woodchucks (also known as groundhogs) are a common source of conflict with humans; they dig large burrows and often eat gardens and landscaping. Lincoln Park Zoo is using radio telemetry to study the fates of relocated nuisance woodchucks in the Chicago area. What risks do relocated woodchucks face in their new habitats? Do they remain at the release site or do they attempt to return to their original locations? Do relocated woodchucks create conflict in their new homes?

By studying how translocation impacts these animals, this project will build a better understanding of how to best manage human-wildlife conflict.

Staff and Collaborators

Lincoln Park Zoo

Liza Watson Lehrer, M.S.
Urban Wildlife Ecologist, Urban Wildlife Institute
Julia Kilgour, M.S.
Adjunct Scientist, Urban Wildlife Institute

Seth Magle, Ph.D.
Director, Urban Wildlife Institute

Patrick Wolff, M.S. is a research technician in Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute and Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology Patrick Wolff
Research Technician, Urban Wildlife Institute and Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Robert Schooley, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences

Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Jennifer Nevis, D.V.M.
Staff Veterinarian


How Much Ground Would a Woodchuck Cover?
How do “nuisance” woodchucks react when they’re moved to new homes? Biologist Liza Watson Lehrer is finding out by tracking 20 of the burrowing mammals through the Chicago area.

Happy Groundhog Day!
Why do people think groundhogs can predict the weather? Scientist Liza Lehrer gives us an introduction to the species and explains how Lincoln Park Zoo monitors them to better understand how to manage human-wildlife conflict.