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Olfactory lures in predator control do not increase predation risk to birds in areas of conservation concern

November 4, 2021

Context: Lethal control of predators is often undertaken to protect species of conservation concern. Traps are frequently baited to increase capture efficacy, but baited traps can potentially increase predation risk by attracting predators to protected areas. This is especially important if targeted predators can escape capture due to low trap success. Snake traps using live mouse lures may be beneficial if traps effectively remove snakes in the presence of birds and do not attract additional snakes to the area.

Aims: The present study evaluated whether mouse-lure traps in areas occupied by birds (simulated by deploying bird-lure traps) could influence predation risk from an invasive snake on Guam.

Methods: Snake traps were used, with Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) as a proxy for predation risk, to assess if an adjacent trap with a mouse (Mus musculus) would attract brown treesnakes (Boiga irregularis) to a focal area and increase contact between an invasive snake and avian prey. Catch per unit effort (CPUE) at stations containing either a bird-lure trap, mouse-lure trap or pair of traps (i.e. one bird-lure and one mouse-lure trap) was evaluated.

Key results: Bird-lure traps paired with mouse-lure traps did not differ in CPUE from isolated bird-lure traps. At paired stations, CPUE of snakes in mouse-lure traps was 2.3× higher than bird-lure traps, suggesting mouse lures were capable of drawing snakes away from avian prey. Bird-lure traps at paired stations experienced a decay in captures over time, whereas CPUE for isolated bird-lure traps increased after 9 weeks and exceeded mouse-lure traps after 7 weeks.

Conclusions: Mouse lures did not increase the risk of snakes being captured in bird-lure traps. Instead, mouse-lure traps may have locally suppressed snakes, whereas stations without mouse-lure traps still had snakes in the focal area, putting avian prey at greater risk. However, snakes caught with bird lures tended to be larger and in better body condition, suggesting preference for avian prey over mammalian prey in larger snakes.

Implications: Strategic placement of olfactory traps within areas of conservation concern may be beneficial for protecting birds of conservation concern from an invasive snake predator.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Olfactory lures in predator control do not increase predation risk to birds in areas of conservation concern
DOI 10.1071/WR21022
Authors Page E. Klug, Amy A. Yackel Adams, Robert Reed
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Wildlife Research
Index ID 70230362
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center