Bait Uptake and Caching by Red Foxes and Nontarget Species in Urban Reserves
Academic Research Library
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Natural Sciences / Centre for Ecosystem Management
The management of biodiversity in urban areas provides a challenge for conservation managers who are interested in the recovery of native species by controlling exotic species. Exotic-animal control programs using poisons can be contentious in terms of the health and safety of nontarget species, including people. Managing exotic predators in urban areas must be effective at 2 levels: controlling the target species and minimizing impacts to nontarget species. We investigated the feasibility of instigating a poison-baiting program to control nonindigenous European red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in city conservation reserves (Perth, Australia). We selected 3 reserves to assess the safety and efficacy of baiting for foxes by maximizing bait uptake by the target species, and minimizing uptake by nontarget species. We tested 2 types of meat bait using 4 bait presentation methods (untethered, uncovered; untethered, covered; tethered, uncovered; tethered, covered). Bait uptake by foxes was highest in urban reserves compared to that in a peri-urban reserve. Bait type and presentation method equally explained bait uptake by foxes. Untethered and uncovered baits were removed 10% more often by foxes, and untethered baits had been cached more often than tethered baits. Baits cached by foxes for up to 1 week were not removed by species other than foxes. Domestic dogs and native birds were common nontarget species to remove baits. Dogs showed no aversion to removing any bait type, nor did bait presentation method influence bait removal. Birds removed fewer baits that had been tethered and covered. We provide an evidence base to demonstrate that bait uptake by nontarget species can be minimized, although we suggest that a fox control program is likely to be more of an organizational challenge to change public attitudes toward responsible dog ownership rather than a technical challenge to poison foxes.