Rabies is a widespread zoonosis that recently reached epidemic proportions in gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) in central Texas. The objectives of this study were to determine bait and attractant preferences among captive gray foxes, to determine the behavioral responses of gray foxes to selected bait-attractant combinations, and to evaluate baits as a delivery mechanism of oral rabies vaccines. Trials were conducted to determine bait preferences of captive gray foxes to selected baits and attractants. Tested baits consisted of a polymer-bound cube made of either dog food meal or fish meal, a polymer-bound cylinder made of dog food meal, and a wax-lard cake that was enhanced with marshmallow or chicken flavoring. Attractants were additives to baits that exuded sweet, sulfurous, fruity, fatty, cheesy, honey, and fishy odors and flavors. Captive gray foxes (n = 31) exhibited a preference for marshmallow wax cakes and polymer dog food baits with a lard interior and granulated sugar exterior. However, gray foxes exhibited chewing behaviors consistent with ingesting an oral vaccine only with the wax cake baits.
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Vol. 34 • No. 4