New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2023) 47(1): 3505

Trials with non-toxic baits for stoats and feral cats

Research Article
Jenny Rickett 1
Penny Wallace 2
Elaine Murphy 2*
  1. Department of Conservation, PO Box 29, Te Anau 9640, New Zealand
  2. Department of Conservation, Private Bag 4715, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Stoats and feral cats are key predators of some of New Zealand’s most threatened fauna and landscape-scale control tools are urgently needed. A ready-made meat bait is being developed for use in both aerial and ground-based control operations. As part of the development, two trials with non-toxic versions of the bait were undertaken: one targeting stoats in Fiordland in spring 2020 and the other targeting feral cats in the Mackenzie Basin in winter 2021. The trials aimed to assess the palatability of baits to both target and non-target species. Stoats and feral cats ate both rabbit and chicken sausage baits. The only native species found to eat baits during the stoat trial was the South Island robin. No consumption of baits by native species was observed during the feral cat trial. These trials have provided confidence that stoats and feral cats can find baits that are hand-laid at a relatively low density. Adding a toxin which has an odour and taste may affect palatability, so field trials will be required to test toxic versions of the baits.