Assessment of risks to non-target species from an encapsulated toxin in a bait proposed for control of feral cats

de Tores, Paul J., Sutherland, Duncan R., Clarke, Judy R., Hill, Robert F., Garretson, Sean W., Bloomfield, Lenny, Strmpher, Lauren, Glen, Alistair S. and Cruz, Jennyffer (2011) Assessment of risks to non-target species from an encapsulated toxin in a bait proposed for control of feral cats. Wildlife Research, 38 1: 39-50. doi:10.1071/WR10105

Author de Tores, Paul J.
Sutherland, Duncan R.
Clarke, Judy R.
Hill, Robert F.
Garretson, Sean W.
Bloomfield, Lenny
Strmpher, Lauren
Glen, Alistair S.
Cruz, Jennyffer
Title Assessment of risks to non-target species from an encapsulated toxin in a bait proposed for control of feral cats
Journal name Wildlife Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1035-3712
Publication date 2011-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/WR10105
Volume 38
Issue 1
Start page 39
End page 50
Total pages 12
Place of publication Collingwood, VIC, Australia
Publisher CSIRO
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Context: The CURIOSITY® bait is the name coined for a variation of the existing sausage-style cat bait, ERADICAT®. The latter is used under experimental permit in Western Australia for research associated with cat control. The CURIOSITY bait differs from ERADICAT by providing a pH-buffered (less acidic) medium and has been proposed to reduce the risk to non-target species by encapsulating a toxin in a pellet. We trialled a prototype pellet proposed for encapsulation of 1080 and/or alternative toxins, with delivery proposed through the CURIOSITY bait.

Aim: Our aim was to determine whether the pellet was consumed by non-target native species from south-west of Western Australia.

Methods: Trials involved use of a non-toxic biomarker, Rhodamine B, encapsulated within the pellet and inserted into the CURIOSITY® bait. Uptake of the encapsulated biomarker was assessed in captive trials for the target species, the feral cat (Felis catus) and two non-target species of varanid lizard, Rosenberg’s goanna (Varanus rosenbergi) and Gould’s goanna (V. gouldii) and the non-target mammal species chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii) and southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus). Uptake of the encapsulated biomarker was also assessed in field trials for a range of native species.

Key results: Captive trials demonstrated feral cats will consume the CURIOSITY bait and pellet. However, results from captive and field trials indicated several non-target species also consumed the bait and pellet. We also found the pellet itself was not sufficiently robust for use in a bait. As with previously reported studies, we found Rhodamine B to be an effective biomarker for use in cats. We also developed a technique whereby Rhodamine B can be used as a biomarker in reptiles. However, its use as a biomarker in other mammalian species was confounded by what appeared to be background, or pre-existing, levels of fluorescence, or banding, in their whiskers.

Conclusion: The prototype pellet is unsuitable in its current form for use with the CURIOSITY bait. We caution that the CURIOSITY bait has non-target issues in south-west of Western Australia and any proposed variations to this bait, or the ERADICAT® bait, need to be rigorously assessed for their potential risk to non-target species and assessed for the level of uptake by cats, irrespective of their suitability/unsuitability as a medium for delivery of an encapsulated toxin. We believe the threat to biodiversity-conservation values from unmitigated feral-cat predation of native fauna poses a significant and real threat and we recommend urgent investment of resources to address the issue of cat predation in a coordinated and collaborative manner within Australia and New Zealand.
Keyword biomarker
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Veterinary Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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