U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service




Date of this Version



This is a U.S. Government work


Journal of Pest Science (2020) 93:723–735 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10340-020-01196-9


Oral baiting is a fundamental method for delivering toxicants to pest species. Planning baiting strategies is challenging because bait-consumption rates depend on dynamic processes including space use and demographics of the target species. To determine cost-effective strategies for optimizing baiting, we developed a spatially explicit model of population dynamics using field-based measures of wild-pig (Sus scrofa) space use, bait consumption, and mortality probabilities. The most cost-effective baiting strategy depended strongly on the population reduction objective and initial density. A wide range of baiting strategies were cost-effective when the objective was 80% population reduction. In contrast, only a narrow range of baiting strategies allowed for a 99% reduction. Cost-effectiveness was lower for low densities of wild pigs because of the increased effort for locating target animals. Bait avoidance due to aversive conditioning from sub-lethal dosing had only minor effects on cost-effectiveness when the objective was an 80% reduction, whereas the effect was much stronger when the objective was 99% population reduction. Our results showed that a bait-based toxicant could be cost-effective for substantially reducing populations of wild pigs, but for elimination it may be most cost-effective to integrate additional management techniques following initial toxicant deployment. The nonlinear interaction of cost-effectiveness, initial population size, and reduction objective also emphasized the importance of considering the dynamics of space use and bait consumption for predicting effective baiting strategies. Although we used data for an acute toxicant and wild-pig consumption rates, our framework can be readily adapted to other vertebrate pest species and toxicant characteristics.