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Conditioning beaver to avoid desirable plants

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

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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.


Megan Kendall

Purdue University

Date 2005
Volume 11
Publisher Wildlife Damage Management Conference Proceedings
Date accepted 2005
Language English
Notes This article was found at Digital Commons @ the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Aversion
  4. Beaver
  5. Conditioning
  6. Consumption
  7. Food intake
  8. Health
  9. Nutrition
  10. Wild animals