Date of this Version
Scientific Reports (2021) 11:19967
Toxic baiting of wild pigs (Sus scrofa) is a potential new tool for population control and damage reduction in the US. Field trials testing a prototype toxic bait (HOGGONE 2 containing 5% sodium nitrite [SN]), though, revealed that wild pigs spilled small particles of toxic bait outside of bait stations which subsequently created hazards for non-target species that consumed those particles, primarily passerine birds. To deter non-target birds from consuming particles of spilled bait, we tested four deterrents at mock bait sites (i.e., baited with bird seed) in north-central Colorado, USA during April–May 2020. We found a programable, inflatable deterrent device (scare dancer) reduced bird visitation by an average of 96%. Then, we evaluated the deterrent devices at SN-toxic bait sites in north-central Texas, USA during July 2020, where the devices were activated the morning following deployment of SN-toxic bait. Overall, we found 139 dead wild pigs at 10 bait sites following one night of toxic baiting, which represented an average of 91% reduction in wild pigs visiting bait sites. We found that deterrent devices were 100% effective at deterring birds from toxic bait sites. We found two dead non-target mice at bait sites without deterrent devices. We noted that deploying toxic bait in mid-summer rather than late-winter/early-spring reduced hazards to migrating birds because they were not present in our study area during July. We recommend using deterrent devices (i.e., novel, programmable, battery operated, continuous and erratic movement, and snapping sounds) to reduce hazards to non-target birds at SN-toxic bait sites. We further recommend deploying SN-toxic bait during seasons when migrating birds are not as abundant until further research demonstrates minimal risks to migrating birds.
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