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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Use of zinc phosphide for California ground squirrel control

  • Author(s): Salmon, Terrell P.
  • Whisson, Desley A.
  • Gorenzel, W. Paul
  • et al.

Zinc phosphide (ZnP) is the only acute rodenticide currently registered for control of the California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi). Research has shown ZnP to give excellent control of sciurid rodents, but operational control programs in California have reported poor and inconsistent control. We examined the literature and conducted 34 field trials between 1996 and 1999 in order to identify factors affecting the field efficacy of ZnP. Important factors identified from the literature include bait acceptance, prebaiting, and timing of control operations in relation to ground squirrel and vegetation phenology. We used ground squirrel counts or active burrow counts to assess the efficacy of ZnP in the field trials. Treatments were either mechanical broadcast or spot baiting of 2% ZnP-treated oat groats. The first field trials in 1996 and 1997 were conducted without bait acceptance tests and prebaiting, and control was inconsistent, ranging from none on one plot, poor on three plots (45% to 63%), to good on two plots (84% to 87%). Field trials in 1998 and 1999 were conducted with bait acceptance tests and pre-baiting. In 1998 control was excellent (88% to 100%) on all plots. However, control was variable in 1999 trials with good control (80% to 90%) on five plots, but poor control (60% to 79%) on two plots, and no control on one plot. In our studies, pre-baiting had little effect on the efficacy of the ZnP for controlling California ground squirrels.

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