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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Strychnine-salt blocks for controlling porcupines in pine forest: efficacy and hazards

  • Author(s): Anthony, R. Michael;
  • Evans, James;
  • Lindsey, Gerald D.
  • et al.

Strychnine-salt blocks were evaluated for effectiveness in killing porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) in pine forests in Oregon and California. Radio-collared porcupines were exposed to strychnine-salt bait located on trees and on the ground in covered bait stations called "cubbies." Bait blocks placed in trees and in cubbies were poorly accepted by porcupines. Only 4 of 32 marked porcupines exposed to bait were poisoned. Two died at cubbies and two died at trees. Other wildlife found poisoned at cubbies were seven unmarked porcupines, seven yellow-pine chipmunks (Tamias amoenus), five Nuttall's cottontails (Sylvilagus nuttallii), four deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) three golden-mantled ground squirrels (Spermophilus lateralis), and one Douglas' squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii). Fewer nontarget animals--two unmarked porcupines, two yellow-pine chipmunks, and one northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus)--died at tree sets. Bioassays with caged porcupines further indicated that strychnine alkaloid is an ineffective toxicant for porcupines.

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