Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

December 1977


A skunk rabies control and surveillance program was initiated by the Department of Livestock, Vertebrate Pest Control Bureau, within designated areas of Fergus, Fallon and Richland counties between January 1, 1975 and July 30, 1975. The use of strychnine eggs employed by trained, licensed government pesticide applicators plus cooperation of local citizens proved to be a safe and selective method for conducting such a program. Of the 83 skunks diagnosed rabid by the Fluroescent Antibody Test as the Department of Livestock Diagnostic Laboratory in Bozeman, 72 percent were taken from control areas; however, of 284 skunks examined from control areas, 21 percent were diagnosed rabid, while 16 percent of the 142 total skunks tested for rabies from surveillance areas were infected with the disease. Little difference existed between the percent of skunks infected with the disease in rabies control and surveillance areas. The presence of apparent "pockets" of rabid animals developed, suggesting that perhaps within broad regions of skunk habitat there may exist smaller, localized populations of skunks that contain a reservoir of individuals infected with rabies. It is impossible to determine from this study if control operations would eventually eliminate all diseased skunks from within a presumed "pocket" of rabid animals.