Train mammals to avoid problematic species
Overall effectiveness category Unknown effectiveness (limited evidence)
Number of studies: 2
Background information and definitions
Mammals raised in areas free of non-native predators may be poorly adapted for use in translocations into areas where they have a greater chance of encountering such predators. This intervention includes cases where attempts are made to expose them to non-native predator cues with the intent that they will be able to avoid these after release. This intervention covers specifically training attempts on wild-born mammals. For captive-born mammals, see: Species management - Train captive-bred mammals to avoid predators.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A controlled study in 2005 in a desert reserve in South Australia, Australia (Moseby et al. 2012) found that greater bilbies Macrotis lagotis which had been trained to avoid invasive mammalian predators showed more predator avoidance behaviour than bilbies which had not received such training. Seven bilbies which had been trained to avoid predators changed burrow more frequently (5.7 times in 11 nights) than seven bilbies without such training (1.4 times). Trained bilbies also moved further between successive burrows (trained: 1,387 m; untrained: 158 m) and selected burrows with more entrance holes (trained: 3.6 entrances; untrained: 2.2 entrances) than untrained individuals. Additionally, all seven trained bilbies changed burrow the night after cat Felis catus scent was sprayed at their burrow entrance, but none of the untrained bilbies changed burrow. In May–June 2005, 14 bilbies were caught in a predator-free area of the Arid Recovery Reserve. Upon capture, seven individuals were exposed to a mock attack by a cat carcass and to cat urine and faecal matter and seven were not. Bilbies were then released at the capture site. All bilbies were equipped with microchips and radio-transmitters. Bilbies were radio-tracked daily to locate their diurnal burrow. Three days after capture, bilbies were located in their diurnal burrows and cat scent was sprayed at the entrance within four hours of sunset.Study and other actions tested
A controlled study in 2007–2009 in a desert reserve in South Australia, Australia (Moseby et al. 2012) found that post-release survival and predator avoidance behaviour of greater bilbies Macrotis lagotis with and without training to avoid invasive mammalian predators did not differ. Nine of 10 bilbies trained to avoid predators and eight of 10 without such training survived over six months after release. The trained bilby that died was either predated or scavenged by a wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax. One bilby without training was killed by a cat Felis catus and one died of natural causes. Four months after release, the number of bilbies which changed burrow the night after cat scent was sprayed at their burrow entrance was the same for trained and untrained individuals (3 of 5 bilbies in each group). The population became extinct 19 months after release. In August 2007, twenty bilbies were caught in a predator-free area of the Arid Recovery Reserve and released, within three hours, into a 200-km2 unfenced area with invasive cats and foxes Vulpes vulpes. Upon capture, 10 individuals were exposed to a mock attack by a cat carcass and to cat urine and faecal matter and 10 were not. All bilbies were equipped with radio-transmitters. Daily attempts were made to locate bilbies during the first month and weekly mortality checks were made for at least the following six months. Four months after release, bilbies were located in their diurnal burrows and cat scent was sprayed at the entrance within four hours of sunset.Study and other actions tested