Testing target-specific bait delivery for controlling feral pigs in a tropical rainforest



Mitigation of feral pig (Sus scrofa) impacts in Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area has been impeded by the lack of a target-specific method for delivering toxic baits in the region. This study evaluated methods to reduce bait-take by susceptible nontarget species without inhibiting bait-take by pigs, to enable more effective pig management. We predicted that dingoes would not select an unprocessed corn bait and that other potential nontarget bait consumers would be unable to access the same bait presented under a lightweight cover. Neither of these methods was expected to reduce bait selection or access by pigs. We tested these predictions by monitoring animal interactions with covered and uncovered corn baits, and covered corn and manufactured baits. Use of corn as a bait substrate effectively prevented bait-take by dingoes. Covering baits substantially reduced bait-take by other nontarget species and completely prevented nontarget bait-take when uncovered feed was provided simultaneously. The corn bait preparation was highly acceptable and accessible to feral pigs. We conclude that the methods evaluated here could enable the consideration of poison baiting as a viable method for controlling feral pigs in the World Heritage Area, where it has previously been unavailable.