Sarcoptic mange epidemics can have long-lasting impacts on susceptible wildlife populations, potentially contributing to local population declines and extirpation. Since 2013, there have been 460 reported cases of sarcoptic mange in an urban population of endangered San Joaquin kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis mutica) in Bakersfield, CA, with many of them resulting in fatality. As part of a multifaceted response to mitigate mange-caused mortalities and reduce this conservation threat, a 2-yr randomized field trial was conducted to assess the efficacy of long-acting flumethrin collars against sarcoptic mange in kit foxes. Thirty-five kit foxes living in a high-density population on a college campus were captured, examined, administered selamectin, and each fox randomly assigned to either receive a flumethrin collar placed within a VHF radio collar or a VHF radio collar without flumethrin. The survival and mange-infestation status of study animals was monitored via radio telemetry, remote cameras, and periodic recapture examinations and compared among treated and control kit foxes using a Cox proportional hazards model. The average time to onset of mange for treated kit foxes (176 days) was similar to controls (171 days) and treatment with flumethrin did not significantly reduce mange risk for all kit foxes. Kit foxes that had a mild mange infestation at the beginning of the study were four times more likely to develop mange again, regardless of flumethrin treatment, compared with kit foxes that had no signs at initial recruitment. This study demonstrates an approach to evaluating population-level protection and contributes to the limited literature on efficacy, safety, and practicality of acaricides in free-ranging wildlife.
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