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



2019 The Authors.


Wildlife Society Bulletin 43(4):752–759; 2019; DOI: 10.1002/wsb.1023


Use of toxic baits or other tools for managing nuisance species must ensure that the species of interest is adequately targeted while exposure to nontarget species is minimized. Nontarget takes of acetaminophen‐laced baits for control of invasive brown treesnakes (Boiga irregularis) on Guam may put those animals at risk of lethal intoxication and render the bait unavailable to the intended target species. We used wildlife cameras to identify species removing toxic and nontoxic baits from brown treesnake bait stations designed to exclude nontarget taxa in 2015 and 2016. Throughout various sites and habitat types, and balanced by season (wet vs. dry), we monitored 512 bait stations. From those, 140 of the baits were taken and the species taking the bait was successfully identified. Brown treesnakes took 124 (88.6%) of the baits, 13 (9.3%) were taken by small coconut crabs (Birgus latro), and 3 (2.1%) were taken by monitor lizards (Varanus indicus). The greatest incidence of nontarget bait takes was by small coconut crabs at 2 adjacent sites atop the same cliff line during a single season; 96.9% of bait takes at all other sites were by brown treesnakes. Bait takes by brown treesnakes were particularly infrequent (2.3%) at sites associated with endangered swiftlet (Aerodramus bartschi) caves where intensive snake control was employed. Although the majority of baits in bait stations are taken by brown treesnakes, local and temporal pulses in nontarget species activity, particularly by crabs, may bias results, which would not be accounted for without supplemental validation by cameras.