Developing efficient methods to noninvasively monitor urban mesocarnivores is important to better understand how these ecologically significant species use the urban landscape. In particular, relatively little research has evaluated bait and scent lure attractants for carnivores. To compare different attractants, we deployed 32 track plate stations in six natural areas in Seattle for three-week trapping sessions in summer 2013. At each station, we used either chicken or canned tuna bait and either catnip oil or fish oil as a scent lure. We also compared track plates to camera traps at 18 of these stations. We captured five species of wild and domestic carnivores (including a carnivorous marsupial) as well as three rodent taxa at one or both devices. Bait type and lure type were not strong predictors of the total number of mammals detected at a device. Camera traps detected 1.58 (95% CI: 0.70–2.46) more species than track plates at each bait station. Among the three most common mesocarnivores: raccoons (Procyon lotor) had a lower latency to first detection at stations baited with chicken, while Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana) had a slightly higher probability of detection at stations using chicken and catnip oil. Domestic cat (Felis catus) detection did not appear to be affected by bait or lure selection. Although low sample sizes and replication prevent us from making strong inferences, we observed that chicken and catnip oil were easier to use and performed slightly better in some metrics for monitoring urban mesocarnivores.
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Vol. 89 • No. 4