Acceptance by stoats (Mustela erminea) of 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) in small-volume baits and its effect on behaviour and time to death
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AIMS: To assess whether stoats (Mustela erminea) would eat small baits containing 0.1% sodium monofluoroacetate (1080); whether they would die from it; how long it would take to kill them; and to document the behaviour of 1080-intoxicated stoats. METHODS: Stoats were offered 1-g baits of two semi-fluid formulations containing 0.1% 1080, presented in open dishes, and their subsequent behaviour was monitored by video and direct observation. Muscle samples from stoats that died were analysed for 1080 residues. RESULTS: There was no significant difference between two types of bait with regard to acceptance, mortality, and time to death, and behavioural effects were similar; consequently, results from the two types of bait were combined. Twelve of 14 stoats offered the baits ate them voluntarily, and a 13th licked bait off its fur; all 13 died between 1 h 15 min and 4 h 7 min (mean 2 h 38 min) later. At first (range 29 min - 2 h 7 min, mean 1 h 1 min), their behaviour appeared to be normal. Ataxia and hyperactivity were the first behavioural signs of poisoning, and lasted 2 min - 1 h 40 min (mean 26 min). This was followed by recumbency with convulsions and rapid breathing (range 16 min to 2 h, mean 58 min), then recumbency with limited activity and progressively shallow breathing prior to death (range 1-51 min, mean 33 min). Stoats became non-responsive to a light being turned on, or to touch once recumbency became sustained. Residues of 1080 were found in muscle tissue of all 13 dead stoats, at concentrations ranging from 0.075 microg/g in a 287-g male that died 4 h 7 min after eating only 0.74 g of bait, to 2.5 microg/g in a 254-g female that died 2 h 42 min after taking a whole 1-g bait. CONCLUSION: Stoats will voluntarily take small (1-g) baits containing a lethal dose of 1080 at 0.1%, and die from it comparatively rapidly for a mammalian carnivore.
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