Raccoon Density and Movements After Population Reduction to Control Rabies



ABSTRACT  Population reduction (PR) and trap-vaccinate-release (TVR) were used to control an outbreak of the raccoon (Procyon lotor) variant of rabies in Ontario, Canada, during 1999. Raccoon density declined significantly following PR; however, density increased significantly 9–10 months post-PR. Recolonization of PR areas with raccoons marked in TVR areas was very low with only 1.8% (32/1,759) of those raccoons dispersing into PR areas during 1999–2000. In addition, the number of raccoons dispersing from TVR areas into PR areas was not significantly greater than the number of raccoons dispersing into treatment areas where population reduction had not been implemented during 1999–2000. Raccoon movements in this study, determined by mark-recapture, averaged < 4.0 km during 1999–2000 and did not differ among treatments (with or without PR). In summary, there was not a mass exodus of raccoons from TVR areas to PR areas during 1999–2000, suggesting there was not an immediate, dramatic, vacuum effect drawing raccoons into areas devoid of raccoons due to PR. However, one year post-PR, raccoon populations were near or above pre-PR densities (due to a high reproductive rate of resident raccoons), suggesting that PR would have to be an annual event if rabies is not eliminated from an area.