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

The immediate impact of 1080 aerial baiting to control wild dogs on a spotted-tailed quoll population

Gerhard Körtner A B and Peter Watson A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Biodiversity, Conservation and Science Section, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, c/- Zoology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: gerhard.koertner@environment.nsw.gov.au

Wildlife Research 32(8) 673-680 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR05014
Submitted: 2 February 2005  Accepted: 28 September 2005   Published: 20 December 2005

Abstract

In eastern Australia, the spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) is the species thought to be most likely at risk from aerial baiting with compound 1080 to control wild dogs (Canis lupus familiaris and C. l. dingo). Although it is known that quolls occasionally die of 1080 poisoning, the broader impact on populations remains unresolved. We therefore assessed the impact of a regular aerial baiting campaign on a population of spotted-tailed quolls. Baiting with 1080 meat baits was conducted by the local Wild Dog Control Association and followed the same procedure as in previous years with the exception that the biomarker, rhodamine B, was added to the baits. Prior to the baiting, 36 quolls were trapped and fitted with mortality radio-collars; 31 of these collars were still functional at the time of baiting. Quolls were monitored from a helicopter and on the ground until retrapped 5–9 weeks after baiting. Transmitters were then removed and a sample of vibrissae was taken for rhodamine B analysis. Carcasses found were analysed for 1080. Predator numbers were assessed before and after baiting using track pads across trails. Among the initial 36 radio-collared quolls, nine mortalities were recorded during the course of the study (seven after baiting). Only one of the nine deaths could be directly attributed to 1080 poisoning. In addition, vibrissae from five of the 35 individuals sampled after baiting were marked with rhodamine B, indicating that these individuals had consumed bait, and survived. Consequently, mortality attributable to this particular aerial baiting campaign was low, apparently because few quolls ate bait and most of those that did survived. Track counts for predators indicated a significant decrease in dog and fox numbers after baiting. Cat activity remained unchanged and the number of quoll tracks increased.


Acknowledgments

The project was overseen by a Steering Committee with members from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Department of Lands, Armidale Rural Lands Protection Board, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, NSW Farmers’ Association and the Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia. We are thankful for the active support from DEC staff, the Niangala and Barnard River Wild Dog Control Associations, the Armidale Rural Lands Protection Board, NSW State Forests (now part of the DPI) and the University of New England. We also wish to thank Ellen and Eric Jansson for providing accommodation, Colin dePagter from Heli Survey, Jindabyne for flying his helicopter safely, Barbara Vanselow and Alan Jackson for performing the post-mortems, Frank Gigliotti from Vertebrate Pest Research Department, Victorian Institute of Animal Science, Department of Primary Industries for conducting the rhodamine B analysis on the vibrissae samples and Bob Parker from the Alan Fletcher Research Station for the 1080 assays on the baits and quoll carcasses. The project was funded primarily by the NSW DEC and a grant from the NSW Department of Lands. Licences were issued by the DEC Animal Care and Ethics committee (ACEC No. 030915/02), DEC Wildlife Licensing (S10642) and DPI (No. 15692). Jack Baker, Bob Harden, Peter Fleming and Fritz Geiser made many useful and constructive comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript


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