Within the domestic swine industry there is growing trepidation about the role feral swine (Sus scrofa) play in the maintenance and transmission of important swine diseases. Innovative disease management tools for feral swine are needed. We used field trials conducted in southern Texas from February to March 2006 to compare species-specific visitation and removal rates of fish-flavored and vegetable-flavored baits with and without commercially available raccoon (Procyon lotor) repellent (trial 1) and removal rates of baits deployed in a systematic and cluster arrangement (trial 2). During trial 1, 1) cumulative bait removal rates after four nights ranged from 93% to 98%; 2) bait removal rates by feral swine, raccoons, and collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu) did not differ by treatment; and 3) coyotes (Canis latrans) removed more fish-flavored baits without raccoon repellent and white-tailed deer removed more vegetable-flavored baits without raccoon repellent than expected. During trial 2, feral swine removed fish-flavored baits distributed in a cluster arrangement (eight baits within 5 m2) at a rate greater than expected. Our observed bait removal rates illustrate bait attractiveness to feral swine. However, the diverse assemblage of omnivores in the United States compared with Australia where the baits were manufactured adds complexity to the development of a feral swine-specific baiting system for pharmaceutical delivery.
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Vol. 43 • No. 3