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Conditioning beaver to avoid desirable plants

By Julie Harper, Dale Nolte, Thomas DeLiberto, David Bergman

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Abstract

Conditioned food aversion can be used to train animals to avoid select foods. Generally, aversive conditioning is best applied when animals first encounter a food item. However, almost by definition damage is inflicted to desirable plants very familiar to the culprit. We assessed the potential for training beaver to avoid a known preferred food. During a 5 day day treatment period beavers were offered only corn at 1600 hours. Six hours later, animals that had ingested corn were injected with 150 mg/kg lithium chloride (LiCl), with a control group receiving sodium chloride (NaCl). Alternate foods were then offered with corn to determine whether animals avoided corn when offered a choice. Animals that ingested corn were given an additional LiCl injection. Although beaver significantly reduced their corn consumption after they were treated with LiCl (P < 0.0001) they also generalized the induced illness to rodent blox (P < 0.0001). The combined effect was an overall reduction of food intake. There was no difference in the control group's intake of corn (P = 0.189) or rodent blox (P = 0.383) between the pre and post-treatment periods. We conclude aversive conditioning is probably not a feasible approach to reduce beaver foraging of preferred foods.

Submitter

Megan Kendall

Purdue University

Date 2005
Volume 11
Publisher Wildlife Damage Management Conference Proceedings
URL http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1127&context=icwdm_wdmconfproc
Date accepted 2005
Language English
Notes This article was found at Digital Commons @ the University of Nebraska-Lincoln: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu
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Tags
  1. Animal roles
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Aversion
  4. Beaver
  5. Conditioning
  6. Consumption
  7. Food intake
  8. Health
  9. Nutrition
  10. Wild animals