Predator-Baiting Experiments for the Conservation of Rock-Wallabies in Western Australia: 25-Year Review with Recent Advances
Computing, Health and Science
Natural Sciences/Centre for Ecosystem Management
Predation is widely believed to be the main threatening process for many native vertebrates in Australia. For 25 years, predator-baiting experiments have been used in the Western Australian Central Wheatbelt to control red fox predation on rock-wallabies and other endangered marsupial prey elsewhere. We review here the history of a series of baiting experiments designed to protect rock-wallaby colonies by controlling red foxes with 1080 poison baits. We continue to support the conclusion that red foxes can reduce or exterminate rock-wallaby populations in Western Australia. Research trials from 1990 to 2008 have uniformly shown a dramatic recovery of rock-wallaby populations once red foxes are baited. Baiting experiments are often black boxes and their success should not blind us to their weaknesses. Ideally, what we would like to measure are the functional responses of predators to prey abundance directly. As a contribution towards this goal, we describe new technology that enables one to determine which predator killed which prey, at exactly what time, with improved research and management outcomes.