Action: Do birds take bait designed for pest control?
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Two studies, one randomised, replicated and controlled, from New Zealand and Australia found no evidence that birds took bait meant for pest control.
If non-target species take poison bait designed for problematic species control then extra care will be needed during control programmes, for example, the use of bait feeders, repellents or dyed bait (see interventions below).
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A before-and-after study on Breaksea Island (170 ha), South Island, New Zealand (Taylor & Thomas 1993) found that there was no significant difference in the number of South Island robins Petroica australis australis counted in 1987, prior to a rat eradication campaign, compared to after the eradication of rats in 1988 and 1989 (130 robins in 1987, 127 and 129 in 1988 and 1989 respectively; 192 birds counted at 133 bait stations in 1988, 194 at 140 stations in 1989). Rats were eradicated using brodifacoum baits in both briquettes and plastic bags. The lack of change in the robin population implies that birds were not adversely affected by the poisoning and did not take the bait.
A randomised, replicated and controlled study over eight days in Adelaide Zoo, Australia (Johnston & McCarthy 2007), found that eight bush stone-curlews did not consume untreated bait (consisting of 50-100g pieces of sun-dried horsemeat and dried oats) when also provided with their normal food (consisting of beef mince, fruit and ‘Woombaroo insectivore mix’ – a commercially available feed mix), which they continued to eat.