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The reptile relocation industry in Australia: Perspectives from operators

Derez CM & Fuller RA (2023) The reptile relocation industry in Australia: Perspectives from operators. Diversity, 15, 343.

Thousands of reptiles are relocated annually in Australia, yet there has been relatively little research aimed at understanding how the reptile relocation industry operates. An online questionnaire was distributed to anyone who had relocated a reptile between April 2019 and April 2020, including wildlife relocators, wildlife rehabilitators and the general public. The questionnaire explored demographics, decision-making and concerns about how the industry functions, through 24 questions and two opportunities to provide open-ended comments. We received 125 responses and 123 comments from operators in all Australian states and territories. Beliefs about appropriate times and places for reptile releases were not reflected in practice for the majority of operators. Confidence about reptiles remaining at recipient sites was low regardless of how many years’ experience an operator had. Escaped captive native reptiles were encountered by most operators, and a quarter of operators were called out to exotic non-native snakes. Operators across all levels of experience indicated a need for changes within the industry, including increased training and professionalism, and more scientific studies on the outcomes of relocations to address concerns about the impacts that the industry has on the wildlife that it is trying to protect.

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