Minimizing Leg-Hold Trapping Trauma for Otters With Mobile Phone Technology



ABSTRACT  We present and evaluate a protocol for the capture of otters (Lutra lutra) using padded leg-hold traps coupled with Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) trap alarms. The trapping method was highly efficient, capturing 46 otters at 6.9 trap-nights each. Functioning alarms allowed us to remove 36 otters from their traps within 22 (SD = 14) minutes of capture. We caught 10 otters in trap sets with malfunctioning trap alarms and retrieved them the following morning, after ≤24 hours. Functioning alarms reduced the injuries suffered from an average cumulative score of 77.7 to just 5.5 on the International Organization for Standardization 10990-5 trauma scale (Z=-5.074, P ≤ 0.001). As a result, we strongly encourage the use of GSM trap alarms under the principle of refinement in animal experiments.