Wild dog control falls foul of meddlesome birds

May 8, 2018

Fowl play: birds are interfering with wild dog baiting devices in WA

A new study from Murdoch University scientists has indicated that birds can significantly interfere with the effectiveness of wild dog baiting programs.

Dr Tracey Kreplins led a pilot study into the effectiveness of canid pest ejectors (CPEs), which are spring-loaded devices that release a dose of 1080 into the mouths of wild dogs.

These devices, which have been successfully used for coyote control in the United States and eastern Australia for decades, have recently been approved in Western Australia for control of wild dogs and foxes.

“Given our issues with other animal interference for ground baiting programs, it was believed that CPEs could be a potentially effective way of controlling wild dogs without affecting other wildlife in the area,” Dr Kreplins said.

“But our results suggest that Corvus bird species (ravens and crows) can significantly interfere with these devices.”

Ten CPEs were installed three kilometres apart at a pastoral station in the southern rangelands of Western Australia. A remote sensing camera was positioned to record all animal activity over a three month period.

The camera was triggered each time an animal interacted with the CPE. Just over 18,000 images were recorded over the period, documenting the movements of feral cats, wild dogs, rabbits, birds and a wide variety of native Australian mammals.

Over 81 days of monitoring, no CPE was triggered and only two wild dogs were captured on camera. In both cases the CPE had corroded before the wild dog approached the CPE.

“During the trial, we found the lure heads in 60 per cent of the CPEs were removed or partially removed by these birds. One device had been partially disassembled,” Dr Kreplins said.

“After 81 days, these traps were corroded due to the heavy rain. To be an effective form of wild dog control, CPE users need to regularly service the CPEs, including oiling the mechanism and replacing the bait heads, as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

“It should be noted this was only a small trial during periods of low wild dog activity over winter. Future trials should examine CPE effectiveness during different conditions and periods of high wild dog activity.”

The study was funded by the Royalties for Regions Boosting Biosecurity fund.

The paper was published in Ecological Management and Restoration and can be read here.

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Media contact: Pepita Smyth
Tel: (08) 9360 1289  |  Mobile: 0417 171 551  |  Email: p.smyth@murdoch.edu.au
Categories: General, Research, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
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