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

How to snap your cat: optimum lures and their placement for attracting mammalian predators in arid Australia

J. L. Read A B E , A. J. Bengsen C , P. D. Meek D and K. E. Moseby A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Ecological Horizons, Kimba, SA 5641, Australia.

B Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, SA 5064, Australia.

C NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia.

D NSW Department of Primary Industries, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: ecological@activ8.net.au

Wildlife Research 42(1) 1-12 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR14193
Submitted: 24 June 2014  Accepted: 21 February 2015   Published: 22 May 2015

Abstract

Context: Automatically activated cameras (camera traps) and automated poison-delivery devices are increasingly being used to monitor and manage predators such as felids and canids. Maximising visitation rates to sentry positions enhances the efficacy of feral-predator management, especially for feral cats, which are typically less attracted to food-based lures than canids.

Aims: The influence of camera-trap placement and lures were investigated to determine optimal monitoring and control strategies for feral cats and other predators in two regions of semi-arid South Australia.

Methods: We compared autumn and winter capture rates, activity patterns and behaviours of cats, foxes and dingoes at different landscape elements and with different lures in three independent 6 km × 3 km grids of 18 camera-trap sites.

Key results: Neither visual, olfactory or audio lures increased recorded visitation rates by any predators, although an audio and a scent-based lure both elicited behavioural responses in predators. Cameras set on roads yielded an eight times greater capture rate for dingoes than did off-road cameras. Roads and resource points also yielded highest captures of cats and foxes. All predators were less nocturnal in winter than in autumn and fox detections at the Immarna site peaked in months when dingo and cat activity were lowest.

Conclusions: Monitoring and management programs for cats and other predators in arid Australia should focus on roads and resource points where predator activity is highest. Olfactory and auditory lures can elicit behavioural responses that render cats more susceptible to passive monitoring and control techniques. Dingo activity appeared to be inversely related to fox but not cat activity during our monitoring period.

Implications: Optimised management of feral cats in the Australian arid zone would benefit from site- and season-specific lure trials.

Additional keywords: auditory, camera traps, Canis lupus dingo, Felis catus, grooming traps, olfactory, Vulpes vulpes.


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