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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Progressing the Possum Pied Piper Project

  • Author(s): Kavermann, Matt
  • Ross, James
  • Paterson, Adrian
  • Eason, Charles
  • et al.
Abstract

Improving vertebrate pest control operations relies on increasing pest animal interactions with control devices (e.g., bait stations, bait bags, and/or traps). Interactions are encouraged using a variety of baits and lures that stimulate an animal’s visual, olfactory, or auditory sense, orientating the target species towards a control device. On a generalised spatial scale of conspicuousness, an auditory lure will function over a greater distance for mammals in forested ecosystems than both visual and olfactory lures, suggesting auditory lures could have the greatest luring potential. In New Zealand, there is an overabundance of the introduced Australian brushtail possum that is the subject of ongoing control. Ground-based control operations typically use visual (e.g., a flour blaze), and to a lesser extent olfactory (e.g., cinnamon) lures for attracting possums to control devices. However, the potential for an auditory stimulus remains largely unexamined and underutilised. Research presented here expands on previous studies with captive animals and examines the development and field testing of an audio lure for possum control. The results from three preliminary field trials show that possums found audio-lured devices sooner than un-lured devices, and that a greater proportion of lured devices were located over time. In addition, possums were recorded investigating lured sites at a higher rate compared to un-lured sites, suggesting that possums were more likely to interact with a control device if it has an audio-lure than if it does not.

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