Is it advisable to use bait?

We would like to comment on the interesting article signed by D.G. Rocha, et al, in the Journal of Zoology, of the Zoological Society of London, 2016, with the following title: "Baiting for carnivores might negatively affect capture rates of prey species in camera-trap studies", i.e.; "The use of bait for carnivores might negatively affect capture ratesof prey species, in camera-trap studies".

In this article it is commented that in the identification studies of medium and large carnivores by photo-trapping, due to their low densities, baits are often used as attractants, to increase the number of photographic records, which otherwise would be scarce.

For this purpose, several photo-trapping cameras were placed in the central area of the Brazilian Amazon and the effect of a bait, common in these studies, such as a mixture of fresh sardines with egg, was studied. The objective was to check if the records of carnivores and their prey species increased with this attractant, or not, and if the quality of the records/identifications of individuals increased with the use of the bait.

Well, they found that, although the records of carnivores increased with the use of bait, there was no increase in the number of individuals identified. That is, the animals were still the same as those recorded by the cameras without bait, but they were photographed on more occasions, so it did not serve as an advantage for the individual identification of carnivores.

It was also found that the number of records of prey species clearly decreased in photo-trapping stations where bait was used. In conclusion, the authors recommend that the use of bait in photo-trapping studies should be carefully considered.

This leads me to reflect on something that I have been discussing for many years in courses, articles and commenting with photo trapping enthusiasts. We should not do what people do, just because it seems usual, but have our own criteria and think about it before doing photo trapping activities.

Depending on the objective, of course, we can have more design constraints or not. It is not the same to put the camera to see what comes out, for the pleasure of observing the fauna, than to embark on a deeper study on the composition, structure and dynamics of the faunal populations. Therefore, these aspects can only be ethical or methodological issues.

It is true that with bait it is faster that some species appear in front of the camera, the first days, but in the long run we will also see how the possible attraction effect decreases and the animals begin to parade in front of the camera without problems. So why do we put bait? Is it perhaps what we are told to do?

In my opinion photo-trapping is a way of being able to see what happens in nature without being there. Therefore we should not try to see a conditioned, transformed, adulterated nature, but to see what happens in a natural way, without interventions.

In short, unless it is essential, for justified reasons, I think we should stop putting baits in front of the cameras, because they affect the results, because they are harmful to the animals, they transform their behaviour and above all, because we should be respectful with what we love.


My Cart