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Capsaicin-treated bait is ineffective in deterring non-target mammals from trap disturbance during invasive lizard control

August 17, 2023

Excluding non-target species from invasive species control efforts can be challenging due to non-target attraction to trap structure, baits, and lures. Various methods have been used to deter non-target species from entering or disturbing traps including altered features (e.g., mesh size, trip mechanism, or entrances), staking traps, and chemical deterrents. Invasive populations of Argentine Black and White Tegu lizards (Salvator merianae) occur in several locations across Florida and Georgia, and there are ongoing trapping efforts to control them. At sites in Georgia, non-target mammals disturb most of the lizard traps (>80%), consume egg bait/lures, and thus reduce trap efficacy. In contrast, our Florida site has fewer problems with non-target mammals. Our goal was to quantify the efficacy of capsaicin-coated eggs, a known distasteful irritant to mammals, as a non-target bait deterrent in live traps set for tegus in both Georgia and Florida. We conducted feeding assays on three tegus and found that individuals readily consumed food coated in capsaicin. We then conducted a three-part, live trapping experiment to test 1) if trap disturbance by mammals habituated to eggs without capsaicin decreased when capsaicin-coated eggs were deployed in Georgia, 2) if mammals not habituated to eggs as bait (treated or untreated) disturbed live traps at the same rate as those habituated to eggs in Georgia, and 3) if tegu capture rates were different when capsaicin treated eggs were deployed in Florida. In Georgia, we found that trap disturbance by non-target mammals did not decrease when capsaicin was applied to eggs in an area previously habituated to trapping with this bait nor when applied in a novel area. In Florida, we found no significant difference in tegu captures using capsaicin-treated vs. untreated bait. Tegus were tolerant of capsaicin, but capsaicin treated eggs did not reduce non-target mammal disturbance to traps. Therefore, removal of invasive populations could be problematic if methods to reduce trap disturbance by non-targets are not identified and deployed.

Publication Year 2023
Title Capsaicin-treated bait is ineffective in deterring non-target mammals from trap disturbance during invasive lizard control
DOI 10.3897/neobiota.87.102969
Authors Lance D McBrayer, Daniel Haro, Michael Brennan, Bryan G. Falk, Amy A. Yackel Adams
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title NeoBiota
Index ID 70248319
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center