Hunters and poachers often use commercially-available, nutrient-rich baits to attract wildlife game animals. We used atomic absorption spectroscopy and ion selective electrochemical analysis techniques to determine whether two common proprietary baits (Deer Cane and Acorn Rage) would leave detectable chemical signatures in soil (i.e., Na+, Cl-, and Ca+2). Our goal was to evaluate low cost tests which could be replicated by wildlife conservation officers in the field. To complete the evaluation we randomly placed two commercial baits on 3 sites in The Millersville University Biological Preserve in Millersville, PA. We collected soils samples from each site over the course of 35 days after bait placement to conduct our soil chemical analysis. We found that baited soils consistently exhibited higher concentrations of Na+ and Cl- compared to control soils. The levels of Na+ on baited soils for the first 3 weeks for both bait sites averaged 3,209 ppm and 4,056 ppm and these levels were substantially higher than average and median concentrations of Na+ found on wild natural lick sites in North America. The simple low-cost techniques we used to test baited soils, NaCl Insta-TEST strips and ‘Acetic Acid’ test, proved effective in detecting the higher concentrations of Na+ and Cl-. These inexpensive field tests may provide wildlife conservation officers a simple tool to verify the use of commercial wildlife baits in areas under investigation for illegal baiting. We recommend that future evaluations of commercial wildlife baits in soils include data on heavy rainfall events, soil type, bait placement and duration.
Haines, Aaron; Fetterolf, Angela; Griffin, Meta; Conrad, Tristan; and Kennedy, Steven
"Use of Soil Chemical Analysis to Detect Commercial Wildlife Game Baits,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 11:
2, Article 11.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol11/iss2/11