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Refining Operational Practice for Controlling Introduced European Rabbits on Agricultural Lands in New Zealand.

Latham AD, Latham MC, Nugent G, Smith J, Warburton B - PLoS ONE (2016)

Bottom Line: In each case, experimental sowing via strip patterns using 10-15 kg of bait per hectare was compared with the current best practice of aerial broadcast sowing at 30-35 kg/ha.We project that strip-sowing could reduce by two thirds the amount of active 1080 applied per hectare in aerial control operations against rabbits, both reducing the non-target poisoning risk and promoting cost savings to farming operations.These results indicate that, similarly to the recently-highlighted benefits of adopting strip-sowing for poison control of introduced brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in New Zealand, aerial strip-sowing of toxic bait could also be considered a best practice method for rabbit control in pest control policy.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Wildlife Ecology & Management, Landcare Research, P.O. Box 69040, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand.

ABSTRACT
European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) pose a major threat to agricultural production and conservation values in several countries. In New Zealand, population control via poisoning is a frontline method for limiting rabbit damage, with large areas commonly treated using the metabolic toxin sodium fluoroacetate ('1080') delivered in bait via aerial dispersal. However, this method is expensive and the high application rates of the active ingredient cause public antipathy towards it. To guide reductions in cost and toxin usage, we evaluated the economics and efficacy of rabbit control using an experimental approach of sowing 1080-bait in strips instead of the commonly-used broadcast sowing method (i.e. complete coverage). Over a 4-year period we studied aerial delivery of 0.02% 1080 on diced carrot bait over ~3500 ha of rabbit-prone land in the North and South islands. In each case, experimental sowing via strip patterns using 10-15 kg of bait per hectare was compared with the current best practice of aerial broadcast sowing at 30-35 kg/ha. Operational kill rates exceeded 87% in all but one case and averaged 93-94% across a total of 19 treatment replicates under comparable conditions; there was no statistical difference in overall efficacy observed between the two sowing methods. We project that strip-sowing could reduce by two thirds the amount of active 1080 applied per hectare in aerial control operations against rabbits, both reducing the non-target poisoning risk and promoting cost savings to farming operations. These results indicate that, similarly to the recently-highlighted benefits of adopting strip-sowing for poison control of introduced brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in New Zealand, aerial strip-sowing of toxic bait could also be considered a best practice method for rabbit control in pest control policy.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Number of rabbits recorded following aerial 1080-bait treatment as a function of the initial number of rabbits recorded on 800 m transects, in Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts, New Zealand, 2011–2014.Studies were conducted over 19 large blocks, with the application of 1080-bait done using either strip-sowing or broadcasting. The x-axis and the y-axis are in log-scale.
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pone.0158078.g004: Number of rabbits recorded following aerial 1080-bait treatment as a function of the initial number of rabbits recorded on 800 m transects, in Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts, New Zealand, 2011–2014.Studies were conducted over 19 large blocks, with the application of 1080-bait done using either strip-sowing or broadcasting. The x-axis and the y-axis are in log-scale.

Mentions: The number of post-control surviving rabbits was not significantly different between treatments (F1, 15 = 2.66, P = 0.12), but was significantly higher at sites with higher initial rabbit counts (F1, 15 = 31.23, P < 0.01; Fig 4), indicating that the poorest reductions in rabbit counts were recorded at sites with the highest pre-control counts. However, the interaction between these two factors was not significant (F1, 15 = 0.11, P = 0.75), i.e., there was no indication of a stronger positive relationship between pre- and post-treatment rabbit counts under the lower overall sowing rates used for the strip-sowing treatment (Fig 4). The proportion of rabbits killed on each transect was not significantly affected by any of the environmental factors that we assessed (based on α = 0.05, Table 2); however, terrain ruggedness had a significant negative effect based on α = 0.1.


Refining Operational Practice for Controlling Introduced European Rabbits on Agricultural Lands in New Zealand.

Latham AD, Latham MC, Nugent G, Smith J, Warburton B - PLoS ONE (2016)

Number of rabbits recorded following aerial 1080-bait treatment as a function of the initial number of rabbits recorded on 800 m transects, in Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts, New Zealand, 2011–2014.Studies were conducted over 19 large blocks, with the application of 1080-bait done using either strip-sowing or broadcasting. The x-axis and the y-axis are in log-scale.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4920370&req=5

pone.0158078.g004: Number of rabbits recorded following aerial 1080-bait treatment as a function of the initial number of rabbits recorded on 800 m transects, in Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts, New Zealand, 2011–2014.Studies were conducted over 19 large blocks, with the application of 1080-bait done using either strip-sowing or broadcasting. The x-axis and the y-axis are in log-scale.
Mentions: The number of post-control surviving rabbits was not significantly different between treatments (F1, 15 = 2.66, P = 0.12), but was significantly higher at sites with higher initial rabbit counts (F1, 15 = 31.23, P < 0.01; Fig 4), indicating that the poorest reductions in rabbit counts were recorded at sites with the highest pre-control counts. However, the interaction between these two factors was not significant (F1, 15 = 0.11, P = 0.75), i.e., there was no indication of a stronger positive relationship between pre- and post-treatment rabbit counts under the lower overall sowing rates used for the strip-sowing treatment (Fig 4). The proportion of rabbits killed on each transect was not significantly affected by any of the environmental factors that we assessed (based on α = 0.05, Table 2); however, terrain ruggedness had a significant negative effect based on α = 0.1.

Bottom Line: In each case, experimental sowing via strip patterns using 10-15 kg of bait per hectare was compared with the current best practice of aerial broadcast sowing at 30-35 kg/ha.We project that strip-sowing could reduce by two thirds the amount of active 1080 applied per hectare in aerial control operations against rabbits, both reducing the non-target poisoning risk and promoting cost savings to farming operations.These results indicate that, similarly to the recently-highlighted benefits of adopting strip-sowing for poison control of introduced brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in New Zealand, aerial strip-sowing of toxic bait could also be considered a best practice method for rabbit control in pest control policy.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Wildlife Ecology & Management, Landcare Research, P.O. Box 69040, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand.

ABSTRACT
European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) pose a major threat to agricultural production and conservation values in several countries. In New Zealand, population control via poisoning is a frontline method for limiting rabbit damage, with large areas commonly treated using the metabolic toxin sodium fluoroacetate ('1080') delivered in bait via aerial dispersal. However, this method is expensive and the high application rates of the active ingredient cause public antipathy towards it. To guide reductions in cost and toxin usage, we evaluated the economics and efficacy of rabbit control using an experimental approach of sowing 1080-bait in strips instead of the commonly-used broadcast sowing method (i.e. complete coverage). Over a 4-year period we studied aerial delivery of 0.02% 1080 on diced carrot bait over ~3500 ha of rabbit-prone land in the North and South islands. In each case, experimental sowing via strip patterns using 10-15 kg of bait per hectare was compared with the current best practice of aerial broadcast sowing at 30-35 kg/ha. Operational kill rates exceeded 87% in all but one case and averaged 93-94% across a total of 19 treatment replicates under comparable conditions; there was no statistical difference in overall efficacy observed between the two sowing methods. We project that strip-sowing could reduce by two thirds the amount of active 1080 applied per hectare in aerial control operations against rabbits, both reducing the non-target poisoning risk and promoting cost savings to farming operations. These results indicate that, similarly to the recently-highlighted benefits of adopting strip-sowing for poison control of introduced brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in New Zealand, aerial strip-sowing of toxic bait could also be considered a best practice method for rabbit control in pest control policy.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus