Friday, 26 April 2013

'Judas' animals - Traitors to their own kind: Radio tracking Judas pigs and pythons to help control invasive species

A Tale of Two Traitors
April 2013. A radio-tagged female Burmese python in the Everglades leads USGS researchers to male pythons, and a radio-tagged feral pig lets USGS scientists know just how destructive to native wildlife and vegetation her kind is. These and other so-called "Judas" animals are unknowingly traitors to their own kind in USGS research that sheds light on the movement and habits of important non-native species.
Dinner on the hoof
Feral pigs, first introduced to the continental United States in the 1500s by Spanish conquistadors who brought the animals over as food, typically weigh in at a hefty 200 pounds but can reach as much as 400 pounds. These feral pigs have tusks up to three inches long - which they aren't afraid to use. They are territorial and live in groups called sounders of as many as 20 individuals, mostly females and young pigs of both sexes.

Have you seen the not-so little piggies?
Males are solitary and only interact with sows to breed. Even though these animals have been in the United States for centuries, little is known about their populations, habitat use and movement patterns, or the habitat destruction their burgeoning numbers are causing in Louisiana and Mississippi. Consequently, USGS researchers have captured, collared and then released large boars and sows to return to their sounder or to their solitary ways if a male.


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