Feral Pig Detectability with Game Cameras

The use of game cameras for surveying and estimating populations of large mammals has become increasingly popular over the past two decades; however, few studies have examined logistics or patterns of animal detection using cameras. We monitored feral pigs (Sus scrofa) for seven consecutive 24-hour periods at 73 pre-baited camera sites on Fort Benning, Georgia, to determine the minimum length of time cameras must be deployed to attain sufficient detection probabilities for three classes of pigs (adult sows, adult boars, and juveniles). We sought to broaden this objective by examining the impact on predicted detection probabilities associated with nocturnal versus diurnal sampling. Predicted detection probabilities for each class exceeded 0.5 following the third day of camera deployment. Results suggest estimation of feral pig abundance may be improved by minimizing sampling periods to three 24-hour periods per monitoring station following a uniform pre-baiting schedule. Sampling may be reduced to nocturnal periods for adult pigs without greatly impacting their detection probabilities; however, detection of juveniles may be slightly diminished. Minimizing monitoring periods as suggested will reduce costs associated with maintaining baited monitoring stations and decrease potential negative influences of human scent at bait sites. Limiting sampling periods will also reduce temporal heterogeneity in abundance estimates, while minimizing potential increases in survival/productivity associated with prolonged baiting.

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