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Colorado Companies Team Up With U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to Protect Black-Footed Ferret

WELLINGTON, Colo., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The endangered black-footed ferrets inhabit prairie dog towns in the western U.S. This rare carnivore feeds on prairie dogs. The prairie dogs are very susceptible to plague and often entire population die-offs in towns occur. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has implemented a ferret breeding program and has been releasing trained, captive ferrets into their formerly native habitat. Unfortunately, plague can sweep through and decimate an entire prairie dog town, eliminate the food supply to ferrets thus starving the small carnivores.

A standard procedure used by the FWS is to proactively dust prairie dog burrows with an insecticide known as Deltamethrin, which kills fleas and protects the prairie dogs from being bitten by plague carrying vector.

This is where two small Colorado-based companies play a role in black footed-ferret protection. Genesis Labs, using grant funds provided by the CDC, has developed prairie dog bait, containing a systemic insecticide. The rodent eats the bait and is not harmed, but the insecticide is absorbed into the blood of the prairie dog. When fleas take a blood meal from the rodent, they are killed within a matter of minutes.

The innovative product is EPA registered and marketed by Scimetrics Ltd. Corp. under the name Kaput Rodent Flea Control Bait. It is the only product of its kind in the world. Genesis and Scimetrics are also working with the Department of Defense and have developed a similar product to control sand flies in the Middle East. U.S. troops serving there are victims of a disease known as cutaneous leishmaniasis. Much like the prairie dogs association with fleas and plague, leishmaniasis is associated with the sand fly and a rodent known as the fat sand rat.

Field testing using Kaput Rodent Flea Control Bait by the FWS initiated in 2009, with more research to be conducted next spring and summer. Preliminary results show that the bait may assist at managing flea populations within prairie dog towns. Genesis and Scimetrics are developing a second product that may be available within two years. That bait would have a longer residual effect in the blood and kill fleas over a longer period. Genesis is committed to working with the FWS in developing innovative products to help protect the endangered black-footed ferret. For more information on Genesis visit their website at

SOURCE Richland Foundation

SOURCE Richland Foundation
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