Anticoagulant rodenticides on our public and community lands: Spatial distribution of exposure and poisoning of a rare forest carnivore

Mourad W. Gabriel, Leslie Woods, Robert H Poppenga, Rick A. Sweitzer, Craig Thompson, Sean M. Matthews, J. Mark Higley, Stefan M. Keller, Kathryn Purcell, Reginald H. Barrett, Greta M. Wengert, Benjamin Sacks, de ana L Clifford

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62 Scopus citations

Abstract

Anticoagulant rodenticide (AR) poisoning has emerged as a significant concern for conservation and management of non-target wildlife. The purpose for these toxicants is to suppress pest populations in agricultural or urban settings. The potential of direct and indirect exposures and illicit use of ARs on public and community forest lands have recently raised concern for fishers (Martes pennanti), a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act in the Pacific states. In an investigation of threats to fisher population persistence in the two isolated California populations, we investigate the magnitude of this previously undocumented threat to fishers, we tested 58 carcasses for the presence and quantification of ARs, conducted spatial analysis of exposed fishers in an effort to identify potential point sources of AR, and identified fishers that died directly due to AR poisoning. We found 46 of 58 (79%) fishers exposed to an AR with 96% of those individuals having been exposed to one or more second-generation AR compounds. No spatial clustering of AR exposure was detected and the spatial distribution of exposure suggests that AR contamination is widespread within the fisher's range in California, which encompasses mostly public forest and park lands Additionally, we diagnosed four fisher deaths, including a lactating female, that were directly attributed to AR toxicosis and documented the first neonatal or milk transfer of an AR to an altricial fisher kit. These ARs, which some are acutely toxic, pose both a direct mortality or fitness risk to fishers, and a significant indirect risk to these isolated populations. Future research should be directed towards investigating risks to prey populations fishers are dependent on, exposure in other rare forest carnivores, and potential AR point sources such as illegal marijuana cultivation in the range of fishers on California public lands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere40163
JournalPLoS One
Volume7
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 13 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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    Gabriel, M. W., Woods, L., Poppenga, R. H., Sweitzer, R. A., Thompson, C., Matthews, S. M., Higley, J. M., Keller, S. M., Purcell, K., Barrett, R. H., Wengert, G. M., Sacks, B., & Clifford, D. A. L. (2012). Anticoagulant rodenticides on our public and community lands: Spatial distribution of exposure and poisoning of a rare forest carnivore. PLoS One, 7(7), [e40163]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0040163