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Target specificity of the felixer grooming 'trap'

Read, JL, Bowden, T, Hodgens, P, Hess, M, McGregor, H ORCID: 0000-0003-3255-9282 and Moseby, K 2019 , 'Target specificity of the felixer grooming 'trap'' , Wildlife Society Bulletin, vol. 43, no. 1 , pp. 112-120 , doi: 10.1002/wsb.942.

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Abstract

Felixer grooming “traps” provide a novel technique for controlling invasive red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and feral cats (Felis catus) by ejecting a dose of poison onto the fur of a target animal, which is subsequently ingested through grooming. The Felixer achieves target specificity through a discriminatory sensor arrangement and algorithm as well as a dosing pathway and toxin, which together make feral cats and foxes more vulnerable than humans and nontarget wildlife. The toxin 1080 used in many pest control projects in Australia is derived from native plants, which renders Australian wildlife, including potential scavengers of poisoned carcasses, that have co-evolved with these toxic plants less sensitive than their nonnative counterparts to 1080 poisoning. We investigated the success of the Felixer sensor system in discriminating target cats and red foxes from nontargets under field conditions. All foxes and 82% of feral cats were correctly identified as targets. No people or medium-sized marsupials - including brush-tailed possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), bettongs (Bettongia spp.), bilbies (Macrotis lagotis), and western quolls (Dasyurus geoffroii) - were incorrectly assigned as targets, suggesting Felixers could provide safe and specific feral-predator control at many conservation sites, albeit not at sites with threatened endemic small felids or canids. A low false-positive detection rate was recorded in larger macropods and poultry that will be addressed with more sophisticated sensor positioning and algorithms in optimized Felixers, along with more careful installation. The low sensitivity of macropods and malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) to 1080, and their reduced grooming behavior relative to feral cats, suggests these species will not be affected by Felixer deployment.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Read, JL and Bowden, T and Hodgens, P and Hess, M and McGregor, H and Moseby, K
Keywords: control tool, Felis catus, Felixer, feral cat, marsupial, oral grooming, predator, red fox, target specificity, 1080, technology, management
Journal or Publication Title: Wildlife Society Bulletin
Publisher: Wildlife Soc
ISSN: 0091-7648
DOI / ID Number: 10.1002/wsb.942
Copyright Information:

© 2021 The Wildlife Society

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