The use of poison baits to control feral cats and red foxes in arid South Australia II. Bait type, placement, lures and non-target uptake

K. E. Moseby*, J. L. Read, B. Galbraith, N. Munro, J. Newport, B. M. Hill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Context Poison baits are often used to control both foxes and feral cats but success varies considerably. Aims This study investigated the influence of bait type, placement and lures on bait uptake by the feral cat, red fox and non-target species to improve baiting success and reduce non-target uptake. Methods Six short field trials were implemented during autumn and winter over a five-year period in northern South Australia. Key results Results suggest that poison baiting with Eradicat or dried kangaroo meat baits was inefficient for feral cats due to both low rates of bait detection and poor ingestion rates for baits that were encountered. Cats consumed more baits on dunes than swales and uptake was higher under bushes than in open areas. The use of auditory or olfactory lures adjacent to baits did not increase ingestion rates. Foxes consumed more baits encountered than cats and exhibited no preference between Eradicat and kangaroo meat baits. Bait uptake by native non-target species averaged between 14 and 57% of baits during the six trials, accounting for up to 90% of total bait uptake. Corvid species were primarily responsible for non-target uptake. Threatened mammal species investigated and nibbled baits but rarely consumed them; however, corvids and some common rodent species ingested enough poison to potentially receive a lethal dose. Conclusions It is likely that several factors contributed to poor bait uptake by cats including the presence of alternative prey, a preference for live prey, an aversion to scavenging or eating unfamiliar foods and a stronger reliance on visual rather than olfactory cues for locating food. Implications Further trials for control of feral cats should concentrate on increasing ingestion rates without the requirement for hunger through either involuntary ingestion via grooming or development of a highly palatable bait.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-358
Number of pages9
JournalWildlife Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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