The effectiveness of conditioned aversion in wolves: Insights from experimental tests

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Jorge Tobajas, María Josefa Ruiz-Aguilera, José Vicente López-Bao, Pablo Ferreras, Rafael Mateo
Behavioural Processes
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It has been suggested that conditioned food aversion (CFA) could be a potential non-lethal intervention by which to deter attacks on livestock by large carnivores. CFA occurs when an animal associates the characteristics of a food with an illness, thus rejecting that food in subsequent encounters. CFA can be associated with an artificial odour during conditioning. Despite the debate surrounding the use of this intervention, more studies evaluating the effectiveness of CFA are necessary. We experimentally evaluated the potential of microgranulated levamisole + a vanilla odour cue to induce CFA in captive Iberian wolves (Canis lupus signatus). Four out of the five wolves treated showed an aversion to the meat for a minimum of one month after conditioning. The microgranulated presentation masked the flavour and smell of the levamisole but increased its volume, which may have facilitated its detection by the wolves. We also observed that the strength of the odour played an important role in the aversion extinction. The use of microgranulated levamisole + an odour cue has the potential to be used as an intervention by which to induce aversive conditioning in wolves in the wild, although rigorous field tests are required. We discuss the potential of CFA to deter attacks on livestock by large carnivores.


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