The untamed shrew: on the termination of an eradication programme for an introduced species
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1. One option in managing introductions of non-native pest species is to eradicate the introduced species by trapping or otherwise removing individuals. A central issue in undertaking such a programme is deciding when it is reasonable to terminate the programme because all individuals have been removed. This decision requires knowledge of the probability that complete eradication has been achieved. 2. An objective Bayesian method is presented to determine the probability that all individuals of an introduced species have been removed. The method is based on the excess trapping times of individuals beyond a specified threshold, assuming a generalized Pareto distribution for excess trapping time. 3. The method is applied to data from an unsuccessful trapping programme of the Asian musk shrew Suncus murinus on the Mauritian island of Ile aux Aigrettes. The results suggest that, had the method been used, managers would have realized that the probability of complete eradication was not high and premature termination could have been avoided. 4. Synthesis and applications. A central issue facing the manager of an eradication programme for an introduced or pest species is deciding when it is reasonable to terminate the programme because all individuals have been removed. If termination is premature, the programme will fail; if termination is delayed beyond the point of eradication, unnecessary costs will be incurred. The statistical method described here for calculating the probability of complete eradication based on the record of removals provides information that is useful either in an informal assessment of progress or in more formal decision making regarding termination.