The immediate impact of 1080 aerial baiting to control wild dogs on a spotted-tailed quoll population

In eastern Australia, the spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) is the species thought to be most likely at risk from aerial baiting with compound 1080 to control wild dogs (including dingoes) (Canis familiaris). Although it is known that quolls occasionally die of 1080 poisoning, the broader impact on populations remains unresolved. We therefore assessed the impact of a regular aerial baiting campaign on a population of spotted-tailed quolls. Baiting with 1080 meat baits was conducted by the local Wild Dog Control Association and followed the same procedure as in previous years with the exception that the biomarker, rhodamine B, was added to the baits. Prior to the baiting, 36 quolls were trapped and fitted with mortality radio-collars; 31 of these collars were still functional at the time of baiting. Quolls were monitored from a helicopter and on the ground until retrapped 5-9 weeks after baiting. Transmitters were then removed and a sample of vibrissae was taken for rhodamine B analysis. Carcasses found were analysed for 1080. Predator numbers were assessed before and after baiting using track pads across trails. Among the initial 36 radio-collared quolls, nine mortalities were recorded during the course of the study (seven after baiting). Only one of the nine deaths could be directly attributed to 1080 poisoning. In addition, vibrissae from five of the 35 individuals sampled after baiting were marked with rhodamine B, indicating that these individuals had consumed bait, and survived. Consequently, mortality attributable to this particular aerial baiting campaign was low, apparently because few quolls ate bait and most of those that did survived. Track counts for predators indicated a significant decrease in dog and fox numbers after baiting. Cat activity remained unchanged and the number of quoll tracks increased.

Author Gerhard Körtner and Peter Watson
Date 20/12/2005
Year 2005
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 32
Number 8
Institution NSW Department of Environment and Conservation
Department Biodiversity, Conservation and Science Section
Pages 673-680
Notes Notes
Control method 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate)