Field efficacy of the Curiosity® bait for management of a feral cat population at Roxby Downs, South Australia
This trial was part of a series of field trials conducted across Australia to assess the efficacy of this bait product and will contribute to the data submitted for product registration purposes.
Curiosity® baits were aerially distributed over a 430 km2 area within Roxby Downs Station, South Australia, in July 2013. Monitoring of the bait efficacy program was undertaken using several methods. The survival of eighteen cats trapped within the baited area was monitored with radio transmitting collars. Site occupancy of feral cats was assessed prior to, and following baiting, using automated cameras at 68 sites. Counts of cat activity on 14 groomed track plots were also recorded.
Ten of the collared cats (58%) were confirmed as having died following consumption of Curiosity® bait(s). The GPS data recovered from the seven cats that survived baiting indicated that they all should have encountered bait(s) during the 10 day period following bait distribution. However, only one of these cats was confirmed to have consumed a bait. One cat was discounted from collar return statistics as its survival after baiting could not be determined.
There was a statistically significant 52% reduction in the occupancy estimates of feral cats after baiting, consistent with the collar return data. However, the data from track counts did not indicate any change in the cat population although this aspect of the study was compromised by wet weather and site access difficulties. It is also probable that the low number and location of plots affected the results observed in the track count component of the study.