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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Determination of the environmental fate of ground squirrel carcasses


A field study was conducted in Lewis and Clark County, Montana, during the summer of 1986 to determine the fate of Columbian ground squirrel (Spermophilus columbianus) carcasses in the environment. Ground squirrel carcasses were marked with radio transmitters and placed in situations and locations similar to those found in actual rodent control operations. Carcasses were monitored until their fate was determined or until they were no longer considered attractive to scavengers. Red fox (Vulpes fulva) was the primary scavenger in this study. Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) and birds (corvids and/or raptors) were the other mammalian and avian scavengers identified. Carrion-eating insects quickly attacked the carcasses and were important in determining the maximum exposure time of the carcasses to scavengers. Factors determining the risks lo scavengers from rodent control operations and management techniques to reduce nontarget hazards are discussed.

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