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Fipronil pellets reduce flea abundance on black-tailed prairie dogs: Potential tool for plague management and black-footed ferret conservation

March 25, 2021

In western North America, sylvatic plague (a flea-borne disease) poses a significant risk to endangered black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) and their primary prey, prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.). Pulicides (flea-killing agents) can be used to suppress fleas and thereby manage plague. In South Dakota, US, we tested edible “FipBit” pellets, each containing 0.84 mg fipronil, on free-living black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludivicianus). FipBits were applied along transects at 125 per ha and nearly eliminated fleas for 2 mo. From 9–14 mo post-treatment, we found only 10 fleas on FipBit sites versus 1,266 fleas on nontreated sites. This degree and duration of flea control should suppress plague transmission. FipBits are effective, inexpensive, and easily distributed but require federal approval for operational use.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Fipronil pellets reduce flea abundance on black-tailed prairie dogs: Potential tool for plague management and black-footed ferret conservation
DOI 10.7589/JWD-D-20-00161
Authors David A. Eads, Travis M. Livieri, Phillip Dobesh, Eddie Childers, Lauren Noble, Michele Vasquez, Dean E. Biggins
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Index ID 70228855
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center