Applying my Research to Restore Mighty Predators
Africa or America, it’s the same story worldwide. People own livestock, predators eat livestock, people destroy predators. My research attempts to break this universal truth by removing a key factor from the equation. Through Conditioned Taste Aversion (CTA) we can tap in to an evolutionary defense mechanism and produce a message that goes into the subconscious of a predator that tells it cattle cannot be eaten or it will result in illness. Predator no longer eats livestock and thus no need to destroy predator.
At the start of April I was tasked by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to apply CTA to a pack of captive Mexican wolves that is scheduled to be released to the wild along the Arizona/New Mexico border later this year. We had six wolves to treat. The process involved concealing the correct dosage of a veterinary medicine mixed with ground beef to induce nausea that mimics food poisoning and we sew it inside of a fresh cowhide so the predator memorizes the scent of the ill-producing food item and thus can avoid it at a distance in the future.
We had some difficult study biases to work through but the end result was fantastic as five very hungry wolves refused to eat beef baits at the completion of the study but they readily ate many pounds of their normal maintenance food immediately following a three hour test with the beef baits indicating strong aversions to beef had been achieved. The sixth wolf was too shy to ever eat the bait so we were unable to treat that one wolf but as the low wolf on the social chain it is quite likely that taking beef off the menu for the rest of the wolves will effectively keep them all from cattle hunting. Of course the real test will be once the wolves are released and in proximity to cattle on the range so we will be looking forward to tracking their behavior post release.
Presentation to Director of Kenya Wildlife Service
At the end of May I will be doing a presentation on this method to the Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service as they are interested in applying CTA to lions in a rehabilitation program prior to release. Then in September we will be in Botswana treating a large group of lions that are in captivity due to their cattle killing ways. If all goes well we expect to be able to move on to a study with free ranging lions in the Kalahari region that would be the most comprehensive free range CTA study to date.
If you are interested in learning more or supporting our CTA effort please contact me.