During 1993–96 the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (Canada) implemented a research project to evaluate the efficacy of three candidate baits to deliver oral rabies vaccine to wild raccoons (Procyon lotor). Extensive field testing revealed that raccoon acceptance of Sugar-Vanilla baits (SV) at densities of 200/km2 and 400/km2, hand-placed in urban habitats of Scarborough (Ontario) during 1993, was 74% and 82%, respectively. Raccoon density in those areas averaged 11/km2. Aerial placement of SV baits in rural habitats in Barrie (Ontario) during 1993 and 1994, yielded raccoon acceptance levels of 58% with a density of 100 baits/km2, 59% at 75 baits/km2, and 47% at 50 baits/km2. Raccoon acceptance of SV baits was significantly lower in areas baited at the density of 50/km2. Acceptance of Cheese baits (CH) at a density of 75 baits/km2 was 52%. During 1996 trials in Barrie, modified SV baits with blister packs protruding through the matrix yielded raccoon acceptance values of 51% at a bait density of 54/km2, whereas acceptance of regular SV baits was 39% at a density of 51 baits/km2. Pooling of bait acceptance data for all years revealed that bait acceptance was highest for adult male raccoons. Raccoon density in rural habitats (Barrie, Ontario) where the studies took place, averaged 11–13/km2. Puncture and impact testing of blister packs in baits suggested that they would adequately serve as a vehicle to contain oral rabies vaccine for delivery to raccoons via baits.
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Vol. 37 • No. 4