Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Monday, 25 May 2015

Attracting feral cats and other alien predators

Read, J. L., Bengsen, A. J., Meek, P. D., & Moseby, K. E. (2015). How to snap your cat: optimum lures and their placement for attracting mammalian predators in arid Australia. Wildlife Research, 42(1), 1-12.

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.

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