Characterization of Avian Hazards Following Chlorophacinone Use for Prairie Dog Control

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The Challenge: Black-tailed prairie dogs are considered a keystone species for the prairie habitat. Many avian species are associated with black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) in winter. Raptors feed on prairie dogs and non-raptor avian species forage within prairie dog colonies.  However prairie dogs are also considered agricultural pests. The first-generation anticoagulant rodenticide Rozol Prairie Dog Bait (chlorophacinone, active ingredient) is registered for control of prairie dogs during winter. Information is needed to determine if operational applications of Rozol at prairie dog colonies result in adverse effects to birds and other non-target wildlife.

The Science: Carcass searches and raptor foraging observations were conducted at two Rozol-treated prairie dog colonies in Colorado. Additionally, captive red-tailed hawks were exposed to Rozol-poisoned prairie dogs, released, and their survival was monitored using radio-telemetry. Hepatic residue analysis and histopathology were conducted on carcasses and samples to confirm Rozol exposure and/or poisoning. Blood was drawn from the red-tailed hawks before they were released to determine fibrinogen concentration and clotting time (prothrombin time and Russell’s viper venom time).

The Future: Manuscript is in preparation.