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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Use reward removal to prevent non-target species from entering traps Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • One study evaluated the effects on mammals of using reward removal to prevent non-target species from entering traps. This study was in the USA.




  • Behaviour change (1 study): A replicated, controlled study in the USA found that when reward removal was practiced, the rate of San Clemente Island fox entry into traps set for feral cats was reduced.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated, controlled study in 1992 and 1994 on an island in California, USA (Phillips & Winchell 2011) found that providing inaccessible bait inside a perforated can conditioned San Clemente Island foxes Urocyon littoralis clementae to avoid feral cat Felis catus traps. In the first year, fewer foxes were recaptured in traps with perforated can baits (8% recaught) than with accessible baits (52%). In the second year, fewer foxes were recaptured in traps using perforated can baits (1% recaptured) than those using accessible baits (27%). When bait treatments were switched between areas, recapture rates increased in those then receiving accessible bait and fell in those with perforated cans. Cat capture efficiency remained high throughout trials. Baits were placed in 8–20 cage traps/area on a 146-km2 island. In 1992, perforated can baits were used in two areas and accessible baits were used in three areas. In 1994, two areas received perforated can baits and accessible baits were used in three areas. Treatments were swapped over in these five areas after 41 days. Inaccessible baits were perforated cat food canisters (1992) or perforated plastic canisters containing cat food, tuna, raw hamburger and a fish oil scent (1994). Accessible baits were cat food, tuna and raw hamburger. Baits were used in traps from February through to June–July in 1992 and 1994.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Littlewood, N.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K., Martin, P.A., Lockhart, S.L., Schoonover, R.F., Wilman, E., Bladon, A.J., Sainsbury, K.A., Pimm S. and Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Terrestrial Mammal Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for terrestrial mammals excluding bats and primates. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.