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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Dairy and Functional Foods Research » Research » Research Project #435048

Research Project: Artificial Bait Optimization for Landscape-scale Brown Treesnake Suppression

Location: Dairy and Functional Foods Research

Project Number: 8072-41000-096-15-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Jul 15, 2018
End Date: Dec 31, 2019

Transfer pilot-scale bait production knowledge to NWRC facilities in Hilo, HI. Refine the bait formulation to permit attachment of the artificial bait to the aerial delivery system cartridge. Conduct field tests at Hilo, HI and on Guam to demonstrate field stability and brown treesnake acceptance of the modified bait matrix.

Knowledge and capacity transfer: Bait formulation equipment will be purchased for use at the NWRC Hilo Field Station to manufacture baits; thereby reducing reliance on USDA-ARS for bait production, permitting more rapid bait production timelines, and facilitating rapid field stability testing in Hilo, HI. The USDA-ARS cooperator will provide hands-on formulation training to NWRC staff at the Hilo field station. Upon completion of the task, NWRC staff will have the capacity to follow instruction from USDA-ARS for preparation of baits according to modified procedures developed at ARS facilities. Bait attachment: The current bait formulation consists pork shoulder and back fat adulterated with “mouse butter” (a mixture of triglycerides). This pork-based formulation offers a novel system for delivering acetaminophen to brown treesnakes (BTS) with proven acceptance by free-ranging BTS. Sustained removal rates of 50% or greater in many prior trials was remarkable for an artificial bait system that did not incorporate dead neo-natal mice (DNM) or extracts derived directly from DNM. Furthermore, bait acceptance by BTS was observed as late as 13 days after deployment. The ARS cooperator will refine the current bait formulation process with the goal of attaching the pork-based bait to the aerial delivery system (ADS) cartridge. Currently, DNM baits are spot-glued to the cartridge. Similar methods will be evaluated for the artificial bait. Bait attachment procedures will be evaluated by USDA-ARS and instructions for production will be provided to NWRC. NWRC will produce optimized baits and evaluate field stability of baits attached to ADS cartridges in outdoor conditions at the Hilo, HI facilities of NWRC. Field testing. Bait stability and BTS preference will be evaluated separately in field trials conducted in Hilo, HI (bait stability) and Guam (BTS bait preference). Field Testing: Bait stability field trials will be conducted at the NWRC Hilo, HI field station. Climatic conditions should be similar enough to Guam to inform about bait stability when attached to the ADS cartridge. Baits (not containing acetaminophen) will be attached to cartridges according to parameters designed by the USDA-ARS collaborator and suspended 1.5-2m off the ground in shrubs. At least 10 baits will be distributed in at least three different locations (to ensure variable exposure to sunlight, wind, rain, etc). Baits will be monitored for at least 10 days and inspected for attachment and visible signs of degradation. All treatments will be represented in each transect in an alternating fashion. Field tests in Guam will evaluate BTS acceptance of the bait modification necessary for attachment to the ADS cartridge as well as address important questions regarding bait acceptance in novel BTS populations. Baits (not containing acetaminophen) will be placed in 30 cm polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubes (5.1 cm diameter) which are suspended with string 1.5-2 m off the ground in shrubs. Each trial may consist of multiple bait formulations. Five transects (see Figure 1 below) will be employed at two Andersen Air Force Base locations, each with 25 tubes.