2016 marks the 21st year that the USDA Wildlife Services (WS) National Rabies Management Program (NRMP) has participated in the distribution of oral rabies vaccine (ORV) baits in the U.S., the largest coordinated landscape level wildlife management effort to control a disease in wildlife populations ever undertaken in the U.S. Cooperative ORV programs in Texas — targeting coyotes and gray fox — resulted in the U.S. being declared canine rabies free in 2007. Only one case of a unique gray fox rabies variant in Texas has been documented since 2013. Also, eastern U.S. ORV programs have resulted in no appreciable spread of the raccoon rabies variant west of the established ORV zones.
The NRMP, along with Federal and State agency partners, distributed approximately 11.1 million baits across 188,000 km2 (an area about the size of Washington State) in 16 states between January and October 2016. Baiting operations typically require more than 100 days, with more than 75% of the baits distributed from August through October. The distance flown during all projects was more than 350,000 km (or just under 9 times around the Earth’s equator) and required greater than 1,800 flight hours!
ORV projects using fixed wing aircraft and helicopters operated out of 16 airports in 9 states this year. Each fixed wing project requires at least 20 WS personnel to staff 5 twin-engine aircraft. At least 100 WS employees participated in ORV operations during 2016 including crew, helicopter pilots, and ground staff. Under ideal conditions, fixed wing aircraft can distribute 350,000 baits in a day and rotary wing aircraft can distribute up to 25,000 baits a day. The end of October 2016 marks another successful year thanks to the hard work and dedication of all those who contributed to this national effort to protect human and animal health and reduce the significant cost associated with living with rabies. For more information about the National Rabies Management Program, visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/wildlifedamage/programs/nrmp.
Click here to view a video on Wildlife Services’ Oral Rabies Vaccine Bait Program.
Wildlife Services is a Strategic Partner of TWS.