The propensity of spotted-tailed quolls to encounter and consume non-toxic meat baits in a simulated canid-control program

Using a biomarker, we assessed the propensity of spotted-tailed quolls (Dasyurus maculatus) to encounter and consume non-toxic meat baits, ordinarily laced with the poison 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) and deployed for control of wild dogs (including dingoes) (Canis familiaris) in southern Australia. In the first experiment, 60 unpoisoned meat baits injected with Rhodamine B were placed on the surface of the ground at 250-m intervals along two separate transects crossing an open woodland study area. One week after placement, a range of animals, including quolls, had removed all baits. Microscopic assay of whisker samples collected from live-captured quolls later revealed that 6 of 10 (60%) animals were positive for the biomarker, indicating that they had encountered and consumed baits. In the second experiment, conducted at the same site one year later, 150 similarly prepared meat baits were delivered aerially from a helicopter along the same transects, at a rate of one bait every 100 m. Eight of 17 quolls (47%) were found to have encountered and consumed at least one and up to five baits. Combined with previous studies, our results reaffirm that surface or aerial baiting operations for wild dogs may place local quoll populations at risk. However, further research is necessary to establish the relationship between this risk and actual mortality levels during such baiting operations since there are a number of factors that may influence the toxicity of baits for spotted-tailed quolls in a field situation as well as the danger those baits may pose.

Author Andrew W. Claridge, Andy J. Murray, James Dawson, Rob Poore, Greg Mifsud and Michael J. Saxon
Date 12/04/2006
Year 2006
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 33
Number 2
Pages 85-91
Notes Notes
Control method Baiting