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Target specificity of the felixer grooming 'trap'


Read, JL and Bowden, T and Hodgens, P and Hess, M and McGregor, H and Moseby, K, Target specificity of the felixer grooming 'trap', Wildlife Society Bulletin, 43, (1) pp. 112-120. ISSN 0091-7648 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2021 The Wildlife Society

DOI: doi:10.1002/wsb.942


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 Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:control tool, Felis catus, Felixer, feral cat, marsupial, oral grooming, predator, red fox, target specificity, 1080, technology, management
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
UTAS Author:McGregor, H (Dr Hugh McGregor)
ID Code:145849
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:17
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2021-08-08
Last Modified:2021-09-15

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