Development and evaluation of baits for feral cat control

Feral cats (Felis catus) are important predators of native birds in New Zealand. Programmes to protect nesting colonies from cats often rely on toxic 1080 bait, but few data exist to determine which baits are most effective at attracting and killing cats. This study compared the palatability and efficacy of two 1080 baits to feral cats under pen and field conditions. In the first pen trial, two groups of 12 cats were offered either 100g of a dry, polymer-coated bait (Bait-Tek), or 100g of a dry protein meal bait (Landcare Research), both containing 0.1% 1080. In the second pen trial, 20 cats were offered 100g each of both types of bait. Average consumption of the Landcare Research bait (30.4+/-6.4g) was greater than consumption of the Bait-Tek bait (19.6+/-5.7g) in the first trial (p<0.05). Efficacy was 92% for both baits. In the second trial, mean consumption of the Landcare Research bait (34.8+/-8.1g) was also greater than the Bait-Tek bait (1.3+/-1.1g). A field trial was initiated on two study sites in the Kaiangoroa forest. Ten cats were live-trapped on one study site (Bait-Tek), and 11 cats on the other (Landcare Research). Cats were fitted with mortality-sensing radio transmitters, and monitored daily for 1 week. Ten bait stations, each containing 100g of bait, were located in areas of regular use within each cat’s home range. Daily monitoring of cat movement continued for 2 weeks. All 21 cats were located within the study sites at the onset of poisoning, and most cats were confirmed around bait stations throughout the 2-week exposure period. However, only two cats were found dead in the Landcare Research site, and one cat in the Bait-Tek site. Natural food was abundant, and may have deterred cats from going to bait stations.

Author M. Wickstrom, M. Thomas, R. Henderson, C.T. Eason
Date null
Year 1999
Secondary title Science for Conservation
Volume 127F
Publisher NZ Department of Conservation
Pages 67-74
Notes Notes
Control method Baiting
Region NZ