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

Attractiveness of a novel omnivore bait, PIGOUT®, to feral pigs (Sus scrofa) and assessment of risks of bait uptake by non-target species

Brendan D. Cowled A B D , Steven J. Lapidge A B , Michelle Smith B C and Linton Staples B C

A Pest Animal Control Cooperative Research Centre, GPO Box 284, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

C Animal Control Technologies Australia P/L, PO Box 379, Somerton, Vic. 3062, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: brendan.cowled@invasiveanimals.com

Wildlife Research 33(8) 651-660 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR06054
Submitted: 16 May 2006  Accepted: 25 October 2006   Published: 19 December 2006

Abstract

Following a bait-preference pilot study on captive feral pigs, a series of field studies assessed the attractiveness and target-specificity of a prototype manufactured feral pig bait (PIGOUT®). Two promising test baits and fresh meat reference baits were biomarked with iophenoxic acid and aerially distributed in 100-km2 blocks of land infested with feral pigs in western Queensland to assess field uptake and target-specificity without prefeeding. Uptake was assessed by measuring blood iodine levels in aerially shot feral pigs. In all, 80% of feral pigs sampled in a non-toxic PIGOUT®-baited area had significantly elevated blood iodine, compared with 52% of sampled feral pigs in a meat-baited area (although slightly different baiting strategies were employed). No age or sex bias was evident in PIGOUT®-consuming feral pigs. No monitored manufactured baits were consumed by non-target species in 500 bait-nights. Attractiveness and target-specificity trials of ground-laid, unfenced PIGOUT® baits compared with reference baits were subsequently undertaken in several regions of eastern Australia. Results showed that PIGOUT® was consumed readily by feral pigs at all sites, and that it offered significant improvement in target specificity when compared with unfenced wheat or meat baits. However, the baits were consumed by small numbers of macropods, birds and possums. Available evidence indicates that the target-specificity of PIGOUT® bait is highest in the rangelands, reducing slightly in temperate areas and subalpine forests, where abundance of small animals is higher.


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