Combining Aspirin with Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) - A Potential New Tool for Controlling Possum Populations

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Abstract

The introduced Australian brushtail possum is a major vertebrate pest in New Zealand, with impacts on conservation and agriculture being managed largely through poisoning operations. Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is registered for use in controlling possums and despite its many advantages it is expensive and relatively inhumane. Combination of a high proportion of aspirin with a low proportion of cholecalciferol was effective in killing high proportions of groups of acclimatised, caged possums: this is attributed to both an unexpectedly high toxicity of the type of cholecalciferol used, and a proposed synergistic mechanism between the two compounds. Death was caused by localised damage to heart ventricles by aspirin, and inhibition of tissue repair by both aspirin and cholecalciferol. The observed toxicosis had lower impact on the welfare of possums than either compound administered alone, particularly aspirin alone. Residue analyses of bait remains in the GI tract suggested a low risk of secondary poisoning by either compound. The combination of cholecalciferol and aspirin has the potential to meet key requirements of cost-effectiveness and humaneness in controlling possum populations, but the effect of the combination in non-target species has yet to be tested. © 2013 Morgan et al.

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Morgan, D. R., Arrow, J., & Smith, M. P. (2013). Combining Aspirin with Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) - A Potential New Tool for Controlling Possum Populations. PLoS ONE, 8(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070683

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