White-tailed deer have become a major threat to the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program in southern Texas. My objectives were to assess deer visitation rates at medicated bait sites, determine landscape use of deer within the quarantine zone, and determine the relationship between acaricide levels and infestation rates of captured deer. Deer were captured via net-gun fired from helicopter. Upon capture all deer received unique ear tags, 48 were fitted with global positioning system collars, and all deer were scratched for ticks. Ivermectin and permethrin levels were assessed on captured deer. Motion-triggered cameras were used to assess deer visitation at medicated bait sites. A greater proportion of the male population visited bait sites (66% vs. 30%), and males that visited bait sites had more photos/sampling period (11.3 vs. 5.6, P = <0.001) and had a higher probability of being photographed at a bait site (0.33 vs. 0.17, P = <0.001) on any given day during the sampling period than females. When comparing sexes, males had larger MCP home ranges (584 vs. 303 ha, P < 0.001), larger kernel home ranges (144 vs. 67 ha, P < 0.001), and a longer maximum axis of their MCP home range (4,131 vs. 3,219 m, P = 0.007). Both sexes spent a larger proportion of their time in mesquite/riparian habitat types. There was no relationship between the probability of a deer being infested with CFT and the presence of permethrin; however, for males (n = 18, P = 0.098) and females (n = 33, P = <0.001) the probability of infection decreased as ivermectin levels increased. Therefore, ivermectin seemed more effective in treating ticks than permethrin. Female visitation was lower than male visitation at medicated bait sites, thus males have a higher chance of being treated for ticks. However, males use the landscape to a greater extent and therefore have a higher probability of transporting ticks outside the quarantine zone. For disease eradication programs to be successful it is important to understand the behavior of the target species and implement techniques that will increase treatment efficiency.
October 1, 2013
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