Remove or control predators by relocating them

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects on reptile populations of removing or controlling predators by relocating them. Both studies were in the USA.



  • Abundance (1 study): One before-and-after study in the USA found that after raccoons were live trapped and relocated, the number of freshwater turtle hatchlings increased for 2–3 years, then decreased again after 3–4 years.
  • Reproductive success (2 studies): One of two studies (including one replicated, controlled study) in the USA found that within a fenced area where predators were removed by both relocating and lethal controls, fewer gopher tortoise nests were predated than outside the fenced area where predators were not removed. The other study found that after raccoons were live trapped and relocated, predation of freshwater turtle nests decreased for 2–3 years, then increased again after 3–4 years.
  • Survival (1 study): One replicated, controlled study in the USA found that within a fenced area where predators were removed by both relocating and lethal controls, survival of gopher tortoise hatchlings was higher than outside the fenced area where predators were not removed.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A before-and-after study in 1978–1982 around ponds and sand dunes in Iowa, USA (Christiansen & Gallaway 1984) found that following removal of racoons Procyon lotor, the number of turtle hatchlings increased, and nest predation decreased for the first few years.  Results were not tested statistically. Nest predation decreased for two years following racoon removal (before removal: 18 nests destroyed; after removal: 5 and 4 nests destroyed), but increased again 3–4 years after removal (21 and 28 nests destroyed). Abundance of hatchlings increased for three years (before removal: 15 hatchlings; after removal: 75, 80 and 74 hatchlings), but then decreased four years after removal (30 hatchlings). The most abundant turtle species was the yellow mud turtle Kinosternon flavescens (167 hatchlings seen in total). Raccoons were live trapped during 1979 and relocated to a site 24 km from the study site. Surveys for hatchlings and destroyed nests were conducted in 1978–1982. Turtle nesting areas were monitored twice/week and hatchling turtles were sampled using drift fences placed between ponds and known nesting areas 3–30 m from water and pitfalls.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, controlled study in 2002–2005 in a pine forest in Georgia, USA (Smith et al. 2013) found that removal of predators using relocations and lethal controls from fenced exclosures resulted in higher survival of gopher tortoise Gopherus polyphemus nests and hatchlings compared to areas with no fencing or predator removal. The effects of predator removal (both relocations and lethal controls) and fencing cannot be separated. Survival was higher inside fenced areas with predator removal compared to outside for both nests (Fenced: 52 of 78, 66% survived; Un-fenced: 26 of 73, 35%) and hatchlings (Fenced: 74% survived for 1 year; Un-fenced: 38%). In 2002–2003, four plots (40 ha) were randomly selected and enclosed in 1 m high mesh fence with electrical wires at the top and bottom. A further four plots were left un-fenced.  In 2002–2003, all mammalian predators within the exclosures were live-trapped and removed, and in 2003–2005, further trapping of meso-predators was conducted. Predators that re-entered exclosures were euthanized. In May–June 2003–2005, all tortoise burrows were searched for nests, and all active nests were monitored 1–2 times/week up to 110 days. In 2004, forty hatchlings from 13 different nests were fitted with radio transmitters and monitored for up to a year.  

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Sainsbury K.A., Morgan W.H., Watson M., Rotem G., Bouskila A., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Reptile Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for reptiles. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Reptile Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Reptile Conservation
Reptile Conservation

Reptile Conservation - Published 2021

Reptile synopsis

What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust