Development of a new humane toxin for predator control in New Zealand.
The endemic fauna of New Zealand evolved in the absence of mammalian predators and their introduction has been responsible for many extinctions and declines. Introduced species including possums (Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr), ship rats (Rattus rattus L.) and stoats (Mustela erminea L.) are targeted to protect native birds. Control methodologies currently rely largely on labor-intensive trapping or the use of increasingly unpopular poisons, or poisons that are linked with low welfare standards. Hence, the development of safer humane predator toxins and delivery systems is highly desirable. Para-aminopropiophenone (PAPP) is being developed as a toxin for feral cats (Felis catus L.) and stoats. Carnivores appear to be much more susceptible to PAPP than birds, so it potentially has high target specificity, at least in New Zealand. Pen trials with 20 feral cats and 15 stoats have been undertaken using meat baits containing a proprietary formulation of PAPP. A PAPP dose of 20-34 mg kg-1 was lethal for feral cats and 37-95 mg kg-1 was lethal for stoats. Our assessments suggest that PAPP, for the control of feral cats and stoats, is a humane and effective toxin. PAPP causes methaemoglobinaemia, resulting in central nervous system anoxia, lethargy and death.