Date of this Version
Scientific Reports (2020) 10:11528
The human-mediated spread of exotic and invasive species often leads to unintentional and harmful consequences. Invasive wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are one such species that have been repeatedly translocated throughout the United States and cause extensive damage to natural ecosystems, threatened and endangered species, agricultural resources, and private lands. In 2005, a newly established population of wild pigs was confirmed in Fulton County, Illinois, U.S. In 2011, a state-wide wild pig damage management program involving federal, state, and local government authorities directed a concerted effort to remove wild pigs from the county until the last wild pig (of 376 total) was successfully removed in 2016. We examined surveillance data from camera traps at bait sites and records of wild pig removals during this elimination program to identify environmental and anthropogenic factors that optimized removal of this population. Our results revealed that wild pigs used bait sites most during evening and nocturnal periods and on days with lower daily maximum temperatures. Increased removals of wild pigs coincided with periods of cold weather. We also identified that fidelity and time spent at bait sites by wild pigs was not influenced by increasing removals of wild pigs. Finally, the costs to remove wild pigs averaged $50 per wild pig (6.8 effort hours per wild pig) for removing the first 99% of the animals. Cost for removing the last 1% increased 84-fold, and averaged 122.8 effort hours per wild pig removed. Our results demonstrated that increased effort in removing wild pigs using bait sites should be focused during periods of environmental stress to maximize removal efficiency. These results inform elimination programs attempting to remove newly established populations of wild pigs, and ultimately prevent population and geographic expansion.
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