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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Dairy and Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #378161

Research Project: Improving the Sustainability and Quality of Food and Dairy Products from Manufacturing to Consumption via Process Modeling and Edible Packaging

Location: Dairy and Functional Foods Research

Title: Adaptation of an artificial bait to an automated aerial delivery system for landscape-scale brown treesnake suppression

item Garcia, Rafael
item MCAULIFFE, THOMAS - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item Bumanlag, Lorelie
item SIERS, SHANE - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item KIMBALL, BRUCE - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)

Submitted to: Biological Invasions
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/3/2021
Publication Date: 5/13/2021
Citation: Garcia, R.A., McAuliffe, T., Bumanlag, L.P., Siers, S., Kimball, B. 2021. Adaptation of an artificial bait to an automated aerial delivery system for landscape-scale brown treesnake suppression. Biological Invasions.

Interpretive Summary: Accidental introduction of the brown treesnake to Guam has devastated numerous native species. A 2009 law requires the US Department of Defense to control or eradicate snake populations within military facilities on Guam. Techniques currently used for snake population suppression are effective for small areas but are not practical for landscape-scale suppression. An experimental helicopter-based system is better suited to distributing toxic snake baits over large areas. Separately, a highly effective artificial snake bait has been formulated. The present work focused on overcoming challenges to integrating these two technologies. The oily surface of the bait interferes with adhesive bonding between bait and dispersal capsules, but the research was able to identity adhesives that create a sufficient bond without deterring consumption by the snakes. The baits had been formulated with expensive synthetic fats, resulting in a bait cost that is too high to be used with the aerial dispersal system. Research determined that it is possible to formulate an equally effective bait with inexpensive natural fats. These advances are significant steps in the development of a tool necessary for the ecological restoration of Guam.

Technical Abstract: Dead neonatal mice are currently used as bait for delivery of toxin to invasive brown treesnakes (Boiga irregularis) on Guam; once deployed in the field the mice are highly attractive to the snakes but only for about four days. An artificial bait containing a mixture of fats mimicking those in skin of the mice is also highly attractive to the snakes and remains attractive 2-3 times longer. The artificial bait, however, costs more than the mice, and is more difficult to attach to the capsules of a novel aerial bait delivery system. This paper describes a reformulation of the bait which reduced the ingredient cost to 11% of its former value, without compromising its attractiveness to free-ranging snakes. Separately, testing of 17 commercially available adhesives identified two that formed strong, weather-resistant bonds between the oily surface of the artificial baits and the bait capsules while having no impact on attractiveness. The results represent an advance in technology development for landscape-scale suppression of brown treesnake populations.