Non lethal control

Managing wildlife humanely with learned food aversions describes experiments investigating the potential of learned food aversions for managing human–wildlife conflict without culling. Our research demonstrated that Conditioned Taste Aversion (CTA) using a colour cue can manipulate food preferences for untreated eggs among captive magpies and crows. However, captivity may influence animals’ motivation to feed, so, having demonstrated the principle, weexamined with free-ranging badgers protection of untreated maize cobs, this time using CTA and an odour cue. Despite promising findings, there are numerous practical difficulties with extrapolating CTA to full-scale applications, including identification of an aversive agent that is suitable for use in the environment. Finally, we used a bitter taste to develop Generalised Aversions (GA) among foxes towards untreated food. While GA might avoid the difficulties of identifying a CTA agent, GAs are likely to provide only short-term protection of untreated foods. Learned food aversions merit further investigation.

Sandra E. Baker
David W. Macdonald