Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
Wildlife Research

Wildlife Research

Volume 41 Number 7 2014

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Once extirpated from most of its historical range in North America, the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is now thriving, and despite potentially severe limiting factors has expanded its range northwards. We evaluated survival of female wild turkeys at the species’ new northern range edge in Ontario, Canada, and found low annual survival and high predation. An improved understanding of whether these populations exist due to high productivity or a source–sink dynamic is important for informing management strategies.

WR14107Recovery of South Australian rabbit populations from the impact of rabbit haemorrhagic disease

G. Mutze, P. Bird, S. Jennings, D. Peacock, N. de Preu, J. Kovaliski, B. Cooke and L. Capucci
pp. 552-559

Two wild rabbit populations in South Australia that were suppressed by rabbit haemorrhagic disease from 1996 to 2002 recovered rapidly between 2003 and 2010. During the recovery, the disease continued to affect all wild rabbits born each year, rainfall was below average and rabbits were not unusually long-lived. This indicates that the underlying cause of recovery is likely to have been increased annual survival rates of infected rabbits.

WR14151Population recovery of the yellow-footed rock-wallaby following fox control in New South Wales and South Australia

Andy Sharp, Melinda Norton, Chris Havelberg, Wendy Cliff and Adam Marks
pp. 560-570

The identification of factors leading to a species’ decline is a fundamental step in the threatened species recovery process. We examined the role of fox predation as a factor limiting the recovery of yellow-footed rock-wallaby populations in New South Wales and South Australia. Following extensive fox-control programs, wallaby numbers were observed to increase significantly, with juvenile and subadult wallabies identified as the most vulnerable age classes. Fox-control programs should form the basis of management programs for southern wallaby populations.

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Studying the interactions between an animal and its spatial environment can enable a deeper understanding of its ecology and lead to insights to assist the conservation of threatened species. It is difficult to study the spatial ecology of highly mobile species such as black cockatoos, Calyptorhychus spp., but through the development of a method for attaching satellite tracking devices and assessment of the performance of those tracking devices, it is now possible to study their movement patterns, identify roost locations, determine foraging areas around roosts and assess short-term survival. The ability to attach tracking devices to black cockatoos opens the possibility to study aspects of their ecology, and that of other similar species, that was not previously possible.

WR14043Landscape predictors of wolf attacks on bear-hunting dogs in Wisconsin, USA

Erik R. Olson, Adrian Treves, Adrian P. Wydeven and Stephen J. Ventura
pp. 584-597
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Human–wildlife conflict can undermine wildlife conservation efforts. Wolf attacks on hound dogs used for hunting black bears and other large carnivores can be predicted in terms of both space and time. Our analysis can help bear hunters avoid high-risk areas, and help wildlife managers protect wildlife and recreational use of public lands, and reduce public costs of predator recovery.

WR14136Nest caging as a conservation tool for threatened songbirds

Richard E. Major, Michael B. Ashcroft and Adrian Davis
pp. 598-605
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Endangered populations are vulnerable to extinction from chance events and so increasing recruitment rates by reducing the intensity of predation can be an important last-ditch conservation action. This study measured the costs and benefits of caging nests of an endangered population of the white-fronted chat, finding that cages excluded nest predators and did not lead to parental desertion of nests. The installation of nest cages appeared to benefit this population and has the potential to assist other endangered songbird species.

Domestic cats are often tracked to determine the extent of their impact on prey populations, but we know little about the impact of the tracking device on the cats’ movements. We measured home ranges of cats wearing devices that weighed between 1% and 3% of their body mass and found that their home ranges were smaller when wearing the heaviest devices. Studies following the rule-of-thumb where 5% body mass is acceptable therefore likely under-estimate the full spatial extent of the impact of cats, and the temptation to load cats with an array of small devices should be resisted if the overall weight is greater than 3% body mass.

WR14108Assessing the efficacy of medetomidine and tiletamine–zolazepam for remote immobilisation of feral horses (Equus caballus)

Magdalena A. Zabek, John Wright, David M. Berman, Jordan O. Hampton and Christina W. Collins
pp. 615-622
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Remote immobilisation of feral horses in the field is indisputably difficult. This study aimed to investigate the efficacy of remote chemical immobilisation of feral horses with medetomidine and tiletamine–zolazepam, which provided adequate anaesthesia for GPS collar placement. The results signified the need for continued research into alternative drug combinations for effective and safe field anaesthesia in feral equids. Photograph by Magdalena Zabek.

WR14094Evaluation of a spring-powered captive bolt gun for killing kangaroo pouch young

T. M. Sharp, S. R. McLeod, K. E. A. Leggett and T. J. Gibson
pp. 623-632
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During commercial harvesting or non-commercial kangaroo culling programs, dependent young of shot female kangaroos are required to be euthanased to prevent suffering and because they would be unlikely to survive. However, the current method for killing pouch young, namely a single, forceful blow to the base of the skull, is applied inconsistently by operators and perceived by the public to be inhumane. Our study tested an alternative method for killing pouch young, namely a spring-operated captive bolt gun, and found that it is only effective at causing immediate insensibility in 62% of cases, well below the 95% minimum acceptable threshold for captive bolt devices in domestic abbatoirs. Cartridge-powered devices deliver 20 times more kinetic energy and should be trialled as an alternative bolt propelling method. Photograph by Trudy Sharp.

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