In early June, a homeowner in a suburb of Seattle was having a conflict with a Townsends Chipmunk. The chipmunk had dug a burrow next to the house and the homeowner was concerned about the animal undermining the foundation. The homeowner decided to capture the chipmunk in a live-trap and relocate her to a park. A few days later the homeowner discovered four baby chipmunks that she had inadvertently orphaned when she relocated their mother. Feeling terrible, she brought the babies to PAWS.
The time away from their mother had been very hard on the young chipmunks. They were extremely thin, weak and dehydrated. Despite the best efforts of PAWS's wildlife rehabilitators two of the chipmunks did not survive long after they arrived. The other two stabilized, but being without food and water for a prolonged period had stressed their bodies to the point that they developed secondary problems. One of the survivors was a female that was exhibiting symptoms of an inner ear infection. The other was a male that had developed an infection in his eye. With the help of antibiotics, the female's ear infection cleared up over the course of 5 days. The eye infection was more stubborn, and took more than two weeks of treatment to resolve.
By mid-July both chipmunks had been weaned, and they were strong and healthy. As of this writing, they have been in a large, outdoor enclosure for the past two weeks, running, climbing and preparing themselves to return to the wild. By the time you read this they will have been released.
When wildlife conflicts arise, people often think of trapping and relocation as a viable solution. The story of these chipmunks illustrates one of the many potential problems with this approach. More about the impacts of trapping and relocation, as well as humane alternatives that can be used to solve wildlife conflicts can be found on the PAWS website.