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

Friday 30 January 2015

Monday 26 January 2015

Belling the cat

After reviewing the available articles considering the effect of bells on feline hunting behaviour, we found a big difference between results of surveys considering cats wearing bells previously to the study and studies where cats were experimentally provided with bells.

Surveys show that bells have little effect on predatory behaviour. After one study, 33% of pet cats wore a bell iUK. Cats wearing a bell hunted fewer mammals than un-belled ones, but there was no difference for birds and herps; probably birds rely more on visual cues than mammals, but maybe skilled cats wear bells more frequently than the rest (Woods et al. 2003). Paton (1991) relying on respondents' memory, found that belling cats has no incidence in the number of preys brought home. In Australia, Reark (1994) found that belled cats hunted more than un-belled ones, but there were not data on how much did they use to hunt before wearing a bell. Barrat (1998) did not find any difference between cats wearing bells or not. In New Zealand, Morgan et al. (2009) got similar results. Hansen (2010) also found no evidence of effect of bells on predation. Comparing sites where belling is compulsory and sites without obligation, no positive correlation was found between small mammal abundance and regulations (Lilith et al., 2010).

Experimental studies where cats were equipped with bells show a decrease between 30 and 50% in the number of preys (Ruxton et al., 2002; Nelson et al., 2005; Gordon et al., 2010). Nevertheless, those studies were, probably, too short (4-8 weeks) to allow cats to learn how to silently stalk their prey. Electronic devices tend to be more effective than bells anone, but are no exempt of problems (Clark & Burton, 1998; Clark, 1999; Nelson et al., 2005). Other devices were more effective, reducing up to 80% the number of preys, but the period was also short (3 weeks) (Calver et al., 2007).

Bright coloured collars seem to be very effective to warn birds on the approaching cat: collared cats kill as much as 19 times less than uncollared animals (Willson et al., 2015), and this could be independent of the cat's skills.

There is a need of longer term studies to better understand the whether

- the effect observed in experimental studies is due to the lack of training, and cats wearing a bell for a longer time will improve their chances

- the lack of effect in surveys is due to a potential bias towards skilled cats wearing bells more frequently that less capable ones.

Sunday 25 January 2015

In defense of TNR

Schmidt, R. H. Cat Fight! The TNR Wars. 2012. Proc. 25th Vertebr. Pest Conf. (R. M. Timm, Ed.) Published at Univ. of Calif., Davis. 2012. Pp. 89-94.

Although trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs for feral cats are in use or being proposed in many communities, a number of non-governmental organizations have gone on record as being opposed to them. For example, The Wildlife Society’s (TWS) policy statement on feral cats (2011) includes a comment that TWS “Oppose the passage of any local or state ordinances that legalize the maintenance of “managed” (trap/neuter/release) free-ranging cat colonies.” Similarly, the American Bird Conservancy’s (ABC) resolution on free-roaming cats (feral and tamed) states that ABC “strongly opposes managed free-roaming cat colonies.” Wildlife managers often lament the loss of tools and techniques (e.g., traps, pesticides, regulatory authority) for managing “nuisance” animals. The attack against TNR programs is indicative of an active program to eliminate a management tool. Is the negativity toward TNR justified? Stated another way, do the negative aspects of TNR programs outweight any possitive elements? I argue that the complete rejection of TNR is premature, erroneous, and without merit.

Saturday 24 January 2015

Novel cat collar to reduce avian mortality

Willson, S. K., Okunlola, I. A., & Novak, J. A. (2015). Birds be safe: Can a novel cat collar reduce avian mortality by domestic cats (Felis catus)?. Global Ecology and Conservation.

The domestic cat (Felis catus) has been described as the largest anthropogenic threat to songbird populations in North America. We examined the effectiveness of a novel cat collar in reducing avian and small mammal mortality by cats. The 2-inch wide Birdsbesafe® collar cover (CC) is worn over a nylon quick-release collar, and the bright colors and patterns of the CC are hypothesized to warn birds of approaching cats. We conducted two seasonal trials, each lasting 12 weeks, in autumn 2013 (n=54 cats) and spring 2014 (n=19 cats). Cats were randomly assigned to two groups, and CCs with interior collars were removed or put on every two weeks, to control for weather fluctuations and seasonal change. Cats wearing Birdsbesafe® CCs killed 19 times fewer birds than uncollared cats in the spring trial, and 3.4 times fewer birds in the fall. Birdsbesafe® CCs were extremely effective at reducing predation on birds. Small mammal data were less clear, but did decrease predation by half in the fall. The Birdsbesafe® CC is a highly effective device for decreasing bird predation, especially in the spring season. We suggest that the CCs be used as a conservation tool for owned as well as feral cats.

Friday 23 January 2015

Costs analysis of a population level rabies control programme in India

Abbas SS, Kakkar M, Rogawski ET, on behalf of the Roadmap to Combat Zoonoses in India (RCZI) initiative (2014) Costs Analysis of a Population Level Rabies Control Programme in Tamil Nadu, India. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 8(2): e2721. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002721

The study aimed to determine costs to the state government of implementing different interventions for controlling rabies among the entire human and animal populations of Tamil Nadu. This built upon an earlier assessment of Tamil Nadu's efforts to control rabies. Anti-rabies vaccines were made available at all health facilities. Costs were estimated for five different combinations of animal and human interventions using an activity-based costing approach from the provider perspective. Disease and population data were sourced from the state surveillance data, human census and livestock census. Program costs were extrapolated from official documents. All capital costs were depreciated to estimate annualized costs. All costs were inflated to 2012 Rupees. Sensitivity analysis was conducted across all major cost centres to assess their relative impact on program costs. It was found that the annual costs of providing Anti-rabies vaccine alone and in combination with Immunoglobulins was $0.7 million (Rs 36 million) and $2.2 million (Rs 119 million), respectively. For animal sector interventions, the annualised costs of rolling out surgical sterilisation-immunization, injectable immunization and oral immunizations were estimated to be $ 44 million (Rs 2,350 million), $23 million (Rs 1,230 million) and $ 11 million (Rs 590 million), respectively. Dog bite incidence, health systems coverage and cost of rabies biologicals were found to be important drivers of costs for human interventions. For the animal sector interventions, the size of dog catching team, dog population and vaccine costs were found to be driving the costs. Rabies control in Tamil Nadu seems a costly proposition the way it is currently structured. Policy makers in Tamil Nadu and other similar settings should consider the long-term financial sustainability before embarking upon a state or nation-wide rabies control programme.

Thursday 22 January 2015

Prevalence of parasites in indoor and outdoor cats on St. Kitts

Ketzis, J. K., Shell, L., Chinault, S., Pemberton, C., & Pereira, M. M. (2015). The prevalence of Trichuris spp. infection in indoor and outdoor cats on St. Kitts. The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries, 9(01), 111-113.

Introduction: The present study was conducted to evaluate the prevalence of Trichuris spp. and other intestinal parasitic infections in owned cats on St. Kitts.
Methodology: The feces of 41 non-feral cats (23 indoor only; 18 indoor/outdoor) were examined for the presence of Trichuris spp. eggs.
Results: Nine (22%) of the cats were positive for Trichuris spp. Prevalence of trichuriasis in indoor cats was 26.0% as compared to 16.7% in outdoor cats. Other parasites identified included Ancylostoma spp. (10%; 4 cats), Toxocara cati (2%; 1 cat), Platynosomum spp. (22%; 9 cats), Mammomonogamus spp. (2%; 1 cat) and coccidia (7%; 3 cats).
Conclusion: On St. Kitts, indoor cats are as likely to have parasite infections as outdoor cats. Given the zoonotic potential of some of the identified parasites, periodical anthelmintic treatment should be provided to both indoor and outdoor cats.

Parasites in stray and owned dogs in Algiers

Naouelle, A., Petit, E., Gandoin, C., Bouillin, C., Ghalmi, F., Haddad, N., & Boulouis, H. J. (2015). Prevalence of select vector-borne pathogens in stray and client-owned dogs from Algiers. Comparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Data on the prevalence of vector-borne diseases agents infecting canines in Algeria is currently lacking. The purpose of this study is to assess by serological and molecular methods the prevalence of select arthropod borne-bacterial infections in client-owned and stray dogs. Antibodies to Anaplasma phagocytophilum were the most prevalent at 47.7%, followed by Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. at 37.6%, Ehrlichia canis at 30.0%, Bartonella henselae at 32.4% and Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii at 27%. Seroprevalence was statistically significantly higher in stray dogs than those owned by clients. Seropositivity was not associated with health status, except for Ehrlichia canis. Molecular evaluation indicates that 17.8% of the 213 analysed dogs were positive for Ehrlichia and Anaplasma with a prevalence of 4.2% for Ehrlichia canis, 14.1% for Anaplama platys and 0% for A. phagocytophilum. Seven (7.1%) of the tested dogs were positive for Bartonella spp. with two characterized as Bartonella rochalimae, four as B. henselae and one as B. v. subsp. berkhoffii.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Garbage dumps and rabies in Cameroon

Raymond, T. N., Roland, M. E., Francoise, K. F. M., Francis, Z., Livo, E. F., & Clovis, S. T. (2015). Do open garbage dumps play a role in canine rabies transmission in Biyem-Assi health district in Cameroon?. Infection Ecology & Epidemiology, 5.

Background: Rabies is a neglected enzootic disease which represents a serious public health problem. In Cameroon, efforts to prevent human deaths caused by rabies are often thwarted by the lack of community awareness. The community knowledge, as well as attitudes and perception on rabies, is therefore important for both prevention of human deaths and control in animals.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out to evaluate the level of community knowledge as well as the role of open garbage dumps (OGDs) in the epidemiology of human rabies. Overall 420 heads of household were interviewed in the Biyem-Assi health district of Yaoundé. OGDs were identified through a systematic check, and household wastes they contained were characterized.

Results: Although 66.9% of respondents have knowledge on stray dogs, only 35% of respondents knew the role of OGDs in the increase of stray dog population. Overall OGDs consisted of fermentable wastes. Nutrition places for stray dogs were wild garbage dumps (68.1%), markets (18.3%), and houses (13.6%). The feeding behavior of stray dogs correlated significantly with the human rabies transmission (χ2=154.12, df=4, p<0.05).

Conclusion: Most participants knew that rabies could be transmitted by a dog bite as well as the measures to be taken in this type of situation. Increased knowledge of respondents on rabies showed OGDs and stray dogs as significant risk factors for canine rabies in Biyem-Assi health district.

Monday 19 January 2015

Gastro intestinal parasites in Stray dogs in Ethiopia

Gugsa, G., Hailu, T., Kalayou, S., Abebe, N., & Hagos, Y. (2015). Prevalence and Worm Burdens of Gastro-Intestinal Parasites in Stray Dogs of Mekelle City, Tigray, Ethiopia. American-Eurasian J. Agric. & Environ. Sci., 15 (1): 08-15

Stray dogs (Canis familiaris) are ownerless native dogs of mostly non descriptive nature which roam
freely without human supervision and gastrointestinal parasites are common pathogens in these dogs and some are reservoirs of parasitic infections of humans. A study on gastrointestinal parasites of free roaming dogs was conducted from November 2009 to April 2010 with the objective of determining the prevalence and intensity of GI parasites of stray dogs and documenting the helminth biodiversity of stray dogs so as to provide baseline information on GI parasites infection of stray dogs on a local scale in Mekelle city. A total of 11 stray dogs were captured and euthanized. Necropsy finding was done and the contents of their alimentary canal were inspected. Statistical tests were performed using SPSS 15.0 windows version. The necropsy finding revealed that 72.72% free roaming dogs were found to be harborcestodes, nematodes and mixed infections. Five species of cestodes and two species of nematodes were found to be adult worms in their respective hosts. The highest parasite burdens (72.72%) were found for S. lupi and D. caninum and the lowest parasite burden was recorded for T. serrata (9.1%). The sex of the euthanized dogs had a significant difference in the prevalence of GI helminthes in the two sexes (p<0.05). Female dogs (100%) were found to be more likely infected by gastrointestinal helminthes than male dogs (62.5%). From the whole gastrointestinal parasites, the highest and lowest mean worm burdens were seen for S. lupi (9.13) and T. serrata (1), respectively. Of these reported parasites some of them have public health importance but dogs harbouring the parasites are living freely and friendly with the public. Hence, there should be a practice of regularand appropriate stray dogs control and health management of owned dogs. In addition, further epidemiological studies should be conducted to investigate the rate of seasonal infection and the level of environmental contamination

Sunday 18 January 2015

Feral cat virus infection prevalence, survival, population density, and multi-scale habitat use in an exurban landscape

Normand, C. M. (2014). Feral cat virus infection prevalence, survival, population density, and multi-scale habitat use in an exurban landscape (Doctoral dissertation, ARKANSAS TECH UNIVERSITY).

Domestic cats (Felis catus) are ubiquitous in natural and anthropogenically modified ecosystems and they negatively impact their environments. Prior research into feral cat ecology in the U.S. has focused primarily on feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) prevalence, spatial organization, and home ranges of cats in urban and rural areas, but information concerning habitat use or exurban feral cat populations is sparse. The purpose of my research is to investigate feral cat virus infection prevalence; survival; population density; and macro- and microhabitat use in exurban Russellville, Arkansas. During October 2012 – August 2013, I captured 93 feral cats and collected blood from each individual for FeLV/FIV testing. I also fit mortality sensing radiocollars on 29 adult cats and conducted radiotelemetry over 65 weeks to determine survival, home range sizes, and to identify summer daytime resting sites (DRSs). I used multivariate analyses to determine 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order habitat use. The combined FeLV and FIV prevalence was 29.02% and I estimated annual feral cat survival as 0.99 with male cats having a greater survival rate than females. In general, annual home range areas (15.17 - 19.76ha) were larger than warm season (9.03 - 15.33ha), but not different from cold season ranges (11.09 - 23.91ha). Home ranges were larger than core areas (2.97 - 5.09ha) for all seasons. Male cat home ranges (22.14 - 29.17ha) were larger than female ranges (9.60 - 12.26ha), but virus status and body condition score did not influence range sizes. Feral cat population density within Russellville was 0.10cats/ha. Second and 3rd order habitat use analyses indicated feral cats used open-low and medium-high intensity development disproportionately to land cover availability and 4 th order analysis identified thick vegetation within these land cover types as the most frequently used DRSs. Although feral cat population density is relatively low, high virus infection prevalence, high annual survival, and large home ranges imply cats have the potential for substantial influence on the community. These results suggest that the city of Russellville would benefit from the development of a feral cat management plan, which would require long-term, intensive efforts

Saturday 17 January 2015

Methods to estimate abundance and rabies vaccination coverage in Bhutan

Tenzin, T., McKenzie, J. S., Vanderstichel, R., Rai, B. D., Rinzin, K., Tshering, Y., Pemd, R., Tsheringf, C., Dahala, N., Dukpaa, K., Dorjeed, S., Wangchukh, S., Jollyb, P.D., Morrisi, R. & Ward, M. P. (2015). Comparison of mark-resight methods to estimate abundance and rabies vaccination coverage of free-roaming dogs in two urban areas of south Bhutan. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. Preventive Veterinary Medicine

In Bhutan, Capture-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release (CNVR) programs have been implemented to manage the dog population and control rabies, but no detailed evaluation has been done to assess their coverage and impact. We compared estimates of the dog population using three analytical methods: Lincoln-Petersen index, the Chapman estimate, and the logit-normal mixed effects model, and a varying number of count periods at different times of the day to recommend a protocol for applying the mark-resight framework to estimate free-roaming dog population abundance. We assessed the coverage of the CNVR program by estimating the proportion of dogs that were ear-notched and visually scored the health and skin condition of free-roaming dogs in Gelephu and Phuentsholing towns in south Bhutan, bordering India, in September–October 2012.

The estimated free-roaming dog population in Gelephu using the Lincoln-Petersen index and Chapman estimates ranged from 612 to 672 and 614 to 671, respectively, while the logit-normal mixed effects model estimate based on the combined two count events was 641 (95% CI: 603-682). In Phuentsholing the Lincoln-Petersen index and Chapman estimates ranged from 525 to 583 and 524 to 582, respectively, while the logit-normal mixed effects model estimate based on the combined four count events was 555 (95% CI: 526-587). The total number of dogs counted was significantly associated with the time of day (AM versus PM; P = 0.007), with a 17% improvement in dog sightings during the morning counting events. We recommend to conduct a morning marking followed by one count event the next morning and estimate population size by applying the Lincoln-Peterson corrected Chapman method or conduct two morning count events and apply the logit-normal mixed model to estimate population size.

The estimated proportion of vaccinated free-roaming dogs was 56% (95% CI: 52–61%) and 58% (95% CI: 53–62%) in Gelephu and Phuentsholing, respectively. Given coverage in many neighbourhoods was below the recommended threshold of 70%, we recommend conducting an annual “mass dog vaccination only” campaign in southern Bhutan to create an immune buffer in this high rabies-risk area. The male-to-female dog ratio was 1.34:1 in Gelephu and 1.27:1 in Pheuntsholing.

Population size estimates using mark-resight surveys has provided useful baseline data for understanding the population dynamics of dogs at the study sites. Mark–resight surveys provide useful information for designing and managing the logistics of dog vaccination or CNVR programs, assessing vaccination coverage, and for evaluating the impact of neutering programs on the size and structure of dog populations over time.

Friday 16 January 2015

Free ranging and stray dog population in Omsk

Makenov, M. T., & Kassalb, B. Y. (2014). Study of Free-Ranging and Stray Dog Population in Omsk. Journal of Siberian Federal University. Biology, 1(7), 87-98.

The characteristics of free-ranging and stray dog population in Omsk City (Russia) were examined. The first section contains estimates of the population density in different urban areas. The average population density is 69 animals/km2. Section 2 shows the sex ratio in dog population. The predominance of male over females has been registered with the overall sex ratio (male/female) equal 1:0,79. The section 3 characterizes the litter size for stray dogs. The average litter size is 4,3 pups per female.

Thursday 15 January 2015

Correlation between coat colour and behaviour in semi-feral cats

Datta, J. (2014). Correlation between coat colour and behaviour in semi-feral cats. Science and Culture, 80(9/10), 283-286.

Correlation of coat colour and certain behavioural patterns has been studied in 192 semi-feral cats. Of the 5 different categories of coat colour namely, (1) pure black, (2) pure white, (3) black and white, (4) white and yellow, (5) white, yellow and black, the first (pure black) was the wildest (most shy) while category 2 (pure white) was the most tameable. However, pure black once tamed (forcefully), behave rather like a "one man's dog" owing allegiance to the master only and avoiding members of his/her family. Furthermore both category (1) and (2), each comprising only 4% of the total population are basically loners. The majority (49%) of the cats belongs to category (3) (black and white) and these cats are tameable and social among themselves. Categories (4) (white and yellow) and (5) (white, yellow and black) comprise 22% and 21%, respectively of the cat population. Only category 4 (white and yellow) shows reaction with family members of the person who feeds, but these cats are basically aggressive; they direct their aggressiveness even to the person who feeds, if they are disturbed while feeding. Ethological implications of the findings have been discussed.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Rats, cats and seabirds: hyperpredation and mesopredator release

Ringler, D., Russell, J., & Le Corre, M. (2015). Trophic roles of black rats and seabird impacts on tropical islands: Mesopredator release or hyperpredation?.Biological Conservation.

Rats contribute to the decline of tropical seabird populations by affecting their breeding success through direct predation of eggs and chicks. When they coexist with other predators, invasive rats may also generate indirect interactions via the changes they impose on the structure of communities and trophic interactions following invasion (‘hyperpredation process’), or when apex predators are eradicated from the ecosystem (‘mesopredator release effect’). Understanding these effects is necessary to implement restoration operations that actually benefit threatened seabird populations. We investigated these processes on two French tropical seabird islands of the western Indian Ocean, Europa and Juan de Nova, where black rats coexist with two different apex predator species (introduced cats and potentially native barn owls). The parallel use of several methods (diet analysis, stable isotopes, seabird monitoring) to identify trophic roles of rats revealed that the direct impact of rats on seabirds was particularly high on Europa where only rats and owls occur, with high consumption of chicks resulting in low breeding success for several seabird species. We also suggested that hyperpredation associated with top-down regulation of cats is occurring on Juan de Nova, although territoriality of cats may buffer this process. Conversely we found evidence that mesopredator release effect is unlikely, irrespective of the apex predator identity. Considering the most likely effects on both islands we provided recommendations on eradication priorities to mitigate the risk of local extinction that seabirds are currently facing.

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Madagascar's carnivores response to fragmentation, hunting and feral cats and dogs

Farris, Z. J. (2015). Responses of Madagascar’s endemic carnivores fragmentation, hunting, and exotic carnivores across the Masoala- Akira landscape. PhD dissertation. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The carnivores of Madagascar are likely the least studied of the world’s carnivores, thus little is known about threats to their persistence. I provide the first long-term assessment of Madagascar’s rainforest carnivore community, including: 1) how multiple forms of habitat degradation (i.e., fragmentation, exotic carnivores, human encroachment, and hunting) affect native and exotic carnivore occupancy; 2) how native and exotic carnivore temporal activity overlap and how body size and niche explain these patterns; 3) how native and exotic carnivores spatially co-occur across the landscape and which variables explain these relationships; and 4) how native and exotic carnivores and humans co-occur with lemurs across Madagascar’s largest protected landscape: the Masoala-Makira landscape. From 2008 to 2013 I photographically sampled carnivores and conducted linetransect surveys of lemurs at seven study sites with varying degrees of degradation and human encroachment, including repeat surveys of two sites. As degradation increased, exotic carnivores showed increases in activity and occupancy while endemic carnivore, small mammal, and lemur occupancy and/or activity decreased. Wild/feral cats (Felis sp.) and dogs (Canis familiaris) had higher occupancy (0.37 ± SE 0.08 and 0.61 ± SE 0.07, respectively) than half of the endemic carnivore species across the landscape. Additionally, exotic carnivores had both direct and indirect negative effects on native carnivore occupancy. For example, spotted fanaloka (Fossa fossana) occupancy (0.70 ± SE 0.07) was negatively impacted by both wild/feral cat (beta = -2.65) and Indian civets (beta = -1.20). My results revealed intense pressure from hunting (ex. n = 31 fosa Cryptoprocta ferox consumed per year from 2005-2011 across four villages), including evidence that hunters target intact forest where native carnivore and lemur occupancy and/or activity are highest. I found evidence of high temporal overlap between native and exotic carnivores (ex. temporal overlap between brown-tail vontsira Salanoia concolor and dogs is 0.88), including fosa (Cryptoprocta ferox) avoiding dogs and humans across all seasons. However, I found no evidence of body size or correlates of ecological niche explaining temporal overlap among carnivores. Estimates of spatial co-occurrence among native and exotic carnivores in rainforest habitat revealed strong evidence that native and exotic carnivores occur together less often than expected and that exotic carnivores may be replacing native carnivores in forests close to human settlements. For example, falanouc show a strong increase in occupancy when dogs are absent (0.69 ± SE 0.11) compared to when they are present (0.23 ± SE 0.05). Finally, the two-species interaction occupancy models for carnivores and lemurs, revealed a higher number of interactions among species across contiguous forest where carnivore and lemur occupancy were highest. These various anthropogenic pressures and their effects on carnivore and lemur populations, particularly increases in exotic carnivores and hunting, have wide-ranging, global implications and demand effective management plans to target the influx of exotic carnivores and unsustainable hunting affecting carnivore and primate populations across Madagascar and worldwide.

Unspayed cat multiplication

Monday 12 January 2015

Floreana Island rodent and cat eradication feasibility analysis

Island Conservation (2013) Floreana Island Ecological Restoration: Rodent and Cat Eradication
Feasibility Analysis version 6.0. Island Conservation, Santa Cruz, California. 85 pp.

The eradication of introduced vertebrates has become a widely accepted strategy for restoring island ecosystems. Based on an understanding of eradication methods and the Floreana Island project site, the feasibility of removing black rats, house mice, and feral cats is assessed within this document. Feasibility was assessed based on current techniques to safely remove rodents and feral cats from islands which have been used worldwide, including recent eradications within the Galápagos archipelago.
The goal of this project is to restore ecosystem function as well as enhance community well-being on Floreana Island. This would be achieved through the eradication of black rats, house mice and feral cats and by implementing effective biosecurity measures (e.g. preventing a rodent incursion and ensuring that domestic cats present on the island cannot act as a source population).
The most common technique used globally for removing rodents from islands is the application of bait containing a rodenticide. Cats are primarily targeted with poison, trapping, and hunting. Floreana is a large island (17,125 ha) compared to efforts undertaken elsewhere. If successful, it would be the second largest island to have had cats and rats removed and the largest to have had mice removed. Methods recommended for this multi-species eradication on Floreana Island are aerial- and ground-dispersed toxic baits (resulting in primary and secondary exposure of target populations), trapping, and hunting with and without dogs. To complement these actions, domestic cats must be sterilized and registered, euthanized, or removed from the island. Regulations must be implemented prior to the eradication to ensure that these actions can be applied to all domestic cats on the island, and that no cats can be imported to the island. Community buy-in and regulations will be required to allow access to all buildings and areas of the island, regardless of tenure. Additional recommendations are made regarding options for interisland biosecurity as well as legislation to regulate or prohibit importations of certain animals.
Factors such as a permanent community on island, tourism, and farmland/agriculture will complicate actions to eradicate rodents and cats. Although this is the case, all eradication principles can be met if the appropriate measures are taken during the planning, implementation, and confirmation phases. The technical removal of both rodents and cats is considered feasible with current eradication methods. Social, legal, and environmental acceptability has been assessed and is considered feasible within the region. Feasibility should be re-assessed periodically as results are received from processes to engage the community. A total cost of $10-12 million dollars is estimated for the planning and implementation of the recommended actions.
This document lays out a detailed description of the site and target species, recommended project approach, scope, and suggested stakeholder involvement needed to carry out a successful multispecies (mouse, rat, cat) eradication campaign on Floreana Island.

Saturday 10 January 2015

Mobility of deers and their arassment by dogs

Progulske, D. R., & Baskett, T. S. (1958). Mobility of Missouri deer and their arassment by dogs. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 184-192.

There is little information on the mobility of the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the middle United States; data are equally limited on the mobility of white-tails on land that is primarily agricultural or where ther's a yearlong harassment by dogs...

Friday 9 January 2015

Alien predator and monitoring program at Ramsar sites in Australia

Robley, A. (2014) Hattah–Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar Protection Project: predator control and monitoring program. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research Technical Report Series No. 258. Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Heidelberg, Victoria.

The Hattah–Kulkyne Lakes Predator Management Strategy forms part of the larger Mallee Catchment Management Authority (MCMA) ‘Building Reconnected, Resilient Landscapes and
Communities across the Murray Mallee’ program to be delivered 2013–2018. Within the broader
program are a series of subprojects, with one specifically addressing the issue of systematically
and strategically reducing pest plant and animal infestations in order to protect key ecological
attributes of the Hattah–Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site.
In order to achieve this the Mallee Catchment Management Authority engaged the Arthur Rylah
Research Institute (ARI) of the Department of Environment and Primary Industries to prepare a
Predator Management Strategy.
The Predator Management Strategy identifies a range of control techniques for Red Foxes (Vulpes
vulpes), with an appraisal of the predicted benefits and limitations of the various techniques. The
strategy also discusses the potential for innovative control techniques to be employed within the
In order to accurately determine whether the predator control program is meeting its objectives, a
monitoring program must measure the responses of both predator populations (i.e. operational
monitoring) and prey populations (i.e. performance monitoring).
The recommended fox control strategy is a two-stage approach. Stage one is the initial knockdown
of the local fox population, and stage two is the sustained management of the lowered fox
population. To assess the effectiveness of the initial knockdown, the strategy recommends a
before-and-after poison baiting comparison in a proportion of the area occupied by foxes. This
approach will also be implemented for the longer-term monitoring of the fox population.
Suggested approaches to monitoring are provided for the monitoring of waterbirds and reptiles
(including freshwater turtles), which are likely to increase in abundance following control of foxes
to low abundance. A detailed monitoring and evaluation plan will be developed to assess the
performance of the fox control program under a separate project.
Increasing water flows into the Hattah–Kulkyne Lake system is likely to result in increased
European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)abundance, with increased and sustained vegetation
growth through spring and early summer. With fox control, and thus reduced predation on rabbits,
it is expected that rabbit densities will increase in the Hattah–Kulkyne Lakes study area, with the
potential for subsequent increases in feral cat (Felis catus) populations. It is recommended that a
rabbit control operation be implemented to complement the fox control program.
As there is no legal definition for ‘feral cats’ in Victoria, and no legal large-scale cost-effective
control tools, the strategy recommends the collection of information on the impact that feral cats
are having in the Lakes system so as to inform the use of broad-scale management programs in the

Thursday 8 January 2015

Need to close the gap between research and policy to rabies control in India

Abbas, S. S., & Kakkar, M. 2014. Rabies control in India: a need to close the gap between research and policy. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. BLT.14.140723

What are the rabies control solutions for India? Researchers and policy-makers need to jointly promote evidence-based policy-making. The landscape of rabies control is complex; with actors from multiple sectors– including animal welfare, public health, veterinary medicine and civil administration – with different perspectives and expectations of a rabies control programme. In such an environment simple intervention strategies are not likely to meet the needs of all stakeholders. Instead, an approach that recognizes the interdependence of – while seeking to improve – human, animal and environmental health, may bring multiple perspectives together. More epidemiological studies and implementation research should be conducted with a wider set of actors. For us, the recognition of the complexity of rabies control is the first step to developing more effective, acceptable and sustainable policy solutions.

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Effects of sex and reproductive state on interactions between free-roaming dogs

Sparkes J, Körtner G, Ballard G, Fleming PJS, Brown WY (2014) Effects of Sex and Reproductive State on Interactions between Free-Roaming Domestic Dogs. PLoS ONE 9(12): e116053. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0116053

Free-roaming dogs (Canis familiaris) are common worldwide, often maintaining diseases of domestic pets and wildlife. Management of these dogs is difficult and often involves capture, treatment, neutering and release. Information on the effects of sex and reproductive state on intraspecific contacts and disease transmission is currently lacking, but is vital to improving strategic management of their populations. We assessed the effects of sex and reproductive state on short-term activity patterns and contact rates of free-roaming dogs living in an Australian Indigenous community. Population, social group sizes and rates of contact were estimated from structured observations along walked transects. Simultaneously, GPS telemetry collars were used to track dogs' movements and to quantify the frequency of contacts between individual animals. We estimated that the community's dog population was 326±52, with only 9.8±2.5% confined to a house yard. Short-term activity ranges of dogs varied from 9.2 to 133.7 ha, with males ranging over significantly larger areas than females. Contacts between two or more dogs occurred frequently, with entire females and neutered males accumulating significantly more contacts than spayed females or entire males. This indicates that sex and reproductive status are potentially important to epidemiology, but the effect of these differential contact rates on disease transmission requires further investigation. The observed combination of unrestrained dogs and high contact rates suggest that contagious disease would likely spread rapidly through the population. Pro-active management of dog populations and targeted education programs could help reduce the risks associated with disease spread.

Monday 5 January 2015

A review of four successful recovery programmes for threatened sub-tropical petrels

Carlile, N., Priddel, D., Zino, F., Natividad, C., & Wingate, D. B. (2003). A review of four successful recovery programmes for threatened sub-tropical petrels. Mar. Ornithol, 31, 185-192.

Recovery programmes have significantly increased the population sizes of four threatened sub-tropical petrels: Zino’s Petrel Pterodroma madeira, Bermuda Petrel P. cahow, Gould’s Petrel P. leucoptera leucoptera and Hawaiian Petrel P. sandwichensis. These recovery programmes were reviewed to examine i) past and present nesting habitat; ii) the nature and commonality of threats; iii) the recovery actions undertaken; iv) the conservation gains; and v) the factors most responsible for these gains. The most significant causes of past population decline were exploitation by humans for food, loss of nesting habitat and the introduction of alien mammals. Primary contemporary threats are predation and disturbance at the breeding grounds by both alien and indigenous species. Current relict populations have restricted distributions and are often confined to nesting habitats that are severely degraded or sub-optimal and dissimilar from those known historically. The crucial attribute of these habitats is the absence or low density of alien predators. The most beneficial recovery actions involved the control or eradication of predators at breeding grounds and the provision of safe artificial nest sites. Recovery actions were more difficult to implement for species on large islands. The success of each recovery programme was due largely to concerted action spanning several decades.

Sunday 4 January 2015

The Canine Cooperation Hypothesis

 Range, F. & Virányi, Z. (2014) Tracking the evolutionary origins of dog-human cooperation: The ‘Canine Cooperation Hypothesis’. Front. Psychol. 5:1582. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01582

At present, beyond the fact that dogs can be easier socialized with humans than wolves, we know little about the motivational and cognitive effects of domestication. Despite this, it has been suggested that during domestication dogs have become socially more tolerant and attentive than wolves. These two characteristics are crucial for cooperation, and it has been argued that these changes allowed dogs to successfully live and work with humans. However, these domestication hypotheses have been put forward mainly based on dog-wolf differences reported in regard to their interactions with humans. Thus, it is possible that these differences reflect only an improved capability of dogs to accept humans as social partners instead of an increase of their general tolerance, attentiveness and cooperativeness. At the Wolf Science Center, in order to detangle these two explanations, we raise and keep dogs and wolves similarly socializing them with conspecifics and humans and then test them in interactions not just with humans but also conspecifics. When investigating attentiveness towards human and conspecific partners using different paradigms, we found that the wolves were at least as attentive as the dogs to their social partners and their actions. Based on these findings and the social ecology of wolves, we propose the Canine Cooperation Hypothesis suggesting that wolves are characterized with high social attentiveness and tolerance and are highly cooperative. This is in contrast with the implications of most domestication hypotheses about wolves. We argue, however, that these characteristics of wolves likely provided a good basis for the evolution of dog-human cooperation.

Saturday 3 January 2015

A survey of feline leukaemia virus infection of domestic cats from selected areas in Harare

Muchaamba, F., Mutiringindi, T. H., Tivapasi, M. T., Dhliwayo, S., & Matope, G. (2014). A survey of feline leukaemia virus infection of domestic cats from selected areas in Harare, Zimbabwe. Journal of the South African Veterinary Association, 85(1), 6-pages.

A cross-sectional study was conducted to detect the feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) p27 antigen and to determine risk factors and the haematological changes associated with infection in domestic cats in Zimbabwe. Sera were collected for detection of the p27 antigen, urea, creatinine, alanine aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase levels, whilst whole blood was collected for haematology. FeLV p27 antigen was detected using a rapid enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test kit. Data on risk factors were analysed using a logistic regression model. Of the 100 cats tested, 41% (95% CI: 31.19% - 50.81%) (41/100) were positive for the FeLV p27 antigen. Sex and health status of cats were not significantly (p > 0.05) associated with infection. Intact cats (OR = 9.73), those living in multicat housing (OR = 5.23) and cats that had access to outdoor life (OR = 35.5) were found to have higher odds of infection compared with neutered cats, those living in single-cat housing, and without access to outdoor life, respectively. Biochemistry and haematology revealed no specific changes. The results showed that FeLV infection was high in sampled cats, providing evidence of active infection. Thus, it would be prudent to introduce specific control measures for FeLV infection in Zimbabwe.

Friday 2 January 2015

Intraguild competition among mesopredators

Garvey, P. M., Glen, A. S., & Pech, R. P. (2014). Foraging Ermine Avoid Risk: behavioural responses of a mesopredator to its interspecific competitors in a mammalian guild. Biological Invasions, 1-13.
Interference competition between predators strongly influences the structure and composition of ecological communities. These interactions are usually asymmetrical as larger predators dominate in aggressive encounters. Smaller predators are forced to balance the conflicting demands of obtaining food while reducing the risk of a confrontation. We tested the behavioural responses of 16 wild captured stoats (Mustela erminea) to the presence of a feral cat (Felis catus) and a ferret (Mustela furo), which we refer to as “larger predators” due to their superior body size. Stoats were released individually into an outdoor arena and nocturnal activities were recorded on infra-red video cameras. On treatment nights, one of the larger predators was placed inside a segregated holding cage on one side of the arena, while an empty cage was placed on the opposite side as a control. A stoat’s daily food allocation was divided into two equal portions, one placed in front of each holding cage to form a food “patch”. Stoats’ perception of risk was assessed by comparing behaviour in the risky patch (close to the caged predator) versus the safe patch (close to the empty cage). Stoats harvested less food at the risky patch. They avoided the area containing the larger predator, both spatially and temporally, and increased vigilance at the risky patch. The results show that stoats alter their foraging behaviour due to perceived interference competition when they encounter larger predators. Understanding trophic interactions between invasive species will help to inform conservation decisions and maximise the effectiveness of management intervention.

Thursday 1 January 2015

Genetic analysis on hybridization between domestic cats and African wildcats

Le Roux, J. J., Foxcroft, L. C., Herbst, M., & MacFadyen, S. (2014). Genetic analysis shows low levels of hybridization between African wildcats (Felis silvestris lybica) and domestic cats (F. s. catus) in South Africa. Ecology and Evolution.

Figure 1. African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) in
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (South Africa/Botswana)
(Photo M. Herbst).
Hybridization between domestic and wild animals is a major concern for biodiversity conservation, and as habitats become increasingly fragmented, conserving biodiversity at all levels, including genetic, becomes increasingly important. Except for tropical forests and true deserts, African wildcats occur across the African continent; however, almost no work has been carried out to assess its genetic status and extent of hybridization with domestic cats. For example, in South Africa it has been argued that the long-term viability of maintaining pure wildcat populations lies in large protected areas only, isolated from human populations. Two of the largest protected areas in Africa, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier and Kruger National Parks, as well as the size of South Africa and range of landscape uses, provide a model situation to assess how habitat fragmentation and heterogeneity influences the genetic purity of African wildcats. Using population genetic and home range data, we examined the genetic purity of African wildcats and their suspected hybrids across South Africa, including areas within and outside of protected areas. Overall, we found African wildcat populations to be genetically relatively pure, but instances of hybridization and a significant relationship between the genetic distinctiveness (purity) of wildcats and human population pressure were evident.

Figure 2. Distribution of collection sites of cats included in this study across
South Africa in relation to formal protected areas and human footprint pressure
The genetically purest African wildcats were found in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, while samples from around Kruger National Park showed cause for concern, especially combined with the substantial human population density along the park's boundary. While African wildcat populations in South Africa generally appear to be genetically pure, with low levels of hybridization, our genetic data do suggest that protected areas may play an important role in maintaining genetic purity by reducing the likelihood of contact with domestic cats. We suggest that approaches such as corridors between protected areas are unlikely to remain effective for wildcat conservation, as the proximity to human settlements around these areas is projected to increase the wild/domestic animal interface. Thus, large, isolated protected areas will become increasingly important for wildcat conservation and efforts need to be made to prevent introduction of domestic cats into these areas.

 Read more on domestic wild feline hybridisation with domestic cat

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