Helicopters and hand baiting are commonly used to distribute vaccine-laden baits to help control raccoon (Procyon lotor) rabies in suburban landscapes, but these techniques may be labor intensive, costly, or unavailable in some areas. We tested conventional baiting strategies against polyvinyl-chloride (PVC) bait stations in Erie County (New York, USA) during July and August 2003–05. Hand, helicopter, and bait station treatments were randomly assigned to six 25-km2 suburban study sites. To estimate the proportion of raccoons that ingested baits, tooth and blood samples from 954 raccoons were collected and examined for tetracycline biomarker and rabies-neutralizing antibodies, respectively. Overall, 38% (358/954) of the raccoons in Erie County tested positive for tetracycline; 16% (155/954) tested seropositive for rabies virus. Year of study significantly impacted biomarker prevalence; fewer raccoons tested positive for tetracycline in 2004. Probability of seropositivity increased with raccoon age. No statistically significant differences existed between baiting strategies and frequencies of biomarker and antibody-positive raccoons across all years combined. Thus, bait stations could be used as part of an integrated rabies control strategy.
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Vol. 44 • No. 4