Please come again: Attractive bait augments recapture rates of capture-naïve snowshoe hares

Melanie R. Boudreau, Jacob L. Seguin, Sophia G. Lavergne, Samuel Sonnega, Lee Scholl, Alice J. Kenney, Charles J. Krebs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Context: Capture-recapture sampling is one of the most commonly used methods for monitoring population demographics and is needed in a wide variety of studies where repeat sampling of individuals is desired. Although studies employing capture-recapture methods often assume unbiased sampling, it is well established that inherent capture biases can occur with these methods, including those related to baits. Reducing sources of sampling bias and augmenting recapture reliability is necessary for capture-dependent studies. However, few studies have examined the efficacy of baits on individuals with variable capture experience. Aims: To investigate the use of an attractant-augmented bait in enhancing capture-recapture probabilities for snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus). Methods: To examine the efficacy of different attractant-augmented bait types, a variety of baits were created, with bait preference tested on a captive hare. Because a strawberry jam-based bait was preferentially consumed (in comparison with other tested baits), the effectiveness of this attractant in enhancing capture-recapture rates was subsequently examined in wild hares, using paired live-trapping field trials (n = 6 trials). Results: Live-trapping trials showed that although overall hare capture rates were not affected by the use of a jam-based bait, recaptures were 33.1% higher in capture-naïve individuals exposed to our attractant. This was not the case for hares with prior capture experience; such hares had an equal likelihood of being recaptured regardless of the bait type used. Conclusions: The tested attractant improved recapture rates of capture-naïve hares. Implications: Studies relying on high recapture rates should use methods that maximise recapture rates wherever possible, including the use of baits that may augment recaptures in capture-naïve animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-248
Number of pages5
JournalWildlife Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes


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