Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Proceedings of the 13th WDM Conference (2009). (J. R. Boulanger, editor). 2009.


Rhodamine B is a dye that when ingested results in fluorescent bands in growing hair and whiskers of many mammals. Previous research at Wildlife Services’ (WS) National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) found that rhodamine B is a successful biomarker in raccoon whiskers and that raccoons do not have a taste aversion to the dye when it comprises ≤ 3% of a bait. Our study assessed the ease of bait distribution, whisker collection, and evaluation of the biomarker for potential use in the Oral Rabies Vaccination (ORV) program administered by the WS National Rabies Management Program (NRMP). In collaboration with WS operations personnel from Ohio and Michigan, 750 fishmeal polymer baits each containing 150 mg of rhodamine B were hand distributed at NASA’s Plum Brook Station, Sandusky, Ohio in the summer of 2008. Four weeks after baits were distributed whiskers from 162 raccoons were collected. Wildlife Services biologists and technicians evaluated the whiskers for fluorescence using a handheld UV magnifying lamp. Biologists then sent the whiskers to the NWRC, Ft. Collins, Colorado for confirmation of fluorescence under a UV microscope. Results suggest a high level of agreement between the two methods of evaluation. Surveys completed by biologists confirmed that the ease of use, less invasive sampling techniques and promptness of results obtained through the use of rhodamine B are advantageous to the tetracycline biomarker presently used by the ORV program. All participants recommended further evaluation of rhodamine B for its inclusion in future efforts requiring biomarker evaluation.