Factors affecting bait site visitation: area of influence of baits
Baiting is a fundamental strategy for the global management of wild pigs (Sus scrofa); however, little information exists on how anthropogenic bait affects wild pig movements on a landscape.We investigated factors that are important in determining the spatial area of attraction for wild pigs to bait (‘area of influence’ of a bait site) using data from Global Positioning System (GPS) collars and locations of bait sites.We monitored movements of wild pigs in 2 distinct study areas in the United States from February to September 2016 and used locational data using GPS collars to analyze the influence of habitat quality (dependent on site), home range size, number of bait sites in the home range, distance to a bait site, and sex in relation to movement in time and space. We determined the average area of influence by calculating the area of a circle with the radius as the average maximum distance travelled by wild pigs to reach a bait site. The average area of influence for our bait sites was 6.7 km2 (or a radius of approximately 1.5 km), suggesting a bait spacing of approximately 1.5 km would be adequate to capture visitation by most wild pigs and a spacing of 3 km could allow substantial visitation while minimizing redundant effort depending on the spatial structure of the populations. Eighty percent of wild pigs first visited bait sites within 8.9 days after bait deployment; and they visited earlier when their home range size was larger. As the number of bait sites in an individual’s home range increased, individual pigs visited more bait sites, and the probability of a visit increased dramatically up to approximately 5 bait sites and much less thereafter.Wild pigs travelled farther distances to visit bait sites in lower quality habitat. Our results support the hypothesis that habitat quality can mediate the efficacy of baiting programs for wildlife by influencing their movement patterns and motivation to use anthropogenic resources. Our results suggest wild pigs will travel extensively within their home range to visit bait sites, and that in lower quality habitat, most animals will find bait sites more quickly. Determining the area of influence of bait sites can increase the efficacy of planning and monitoring management programs. Our study provides new information to help managers plan baiting designs to attract the greatest number of pigs.